We usually perceive the most difficult days of the month as the official “medical contraindication” from sports: we have fits in the abdomen, the whole body aches, the spirits are low… In fact, under these circumstances you can practice almost any kind of fitness. The main thing is to listen to your body and follow the simple rules!
It is an interesting fact that during menstruation women may carry heavy loads and do fitness with the greatest efficiency. Stacy Sims, a sports physician at Stanford University and author of numerous scientific papers about fitness and the menstrual cycle, claims our hormones are more reminiscent of … men’s hormones on these days of the month. According to Sims, the level of estrogen and progesterone drops, whereas metabolism gets accelerated, and endurance increases. Of course, this is a little hormonal jump, but it affects the general condition significantly. Sims, for instance, has won the triathlon championship during menstruation.
Fitness on these days can be not only very successful, but also useful. Contrary to a popular belief that you should lie in bed when it hurts, adequate load can rid you of abdominal pain and general weakness. During exercises, the blood circulation in the pelvis accelerates, the tension at the waist is removed, and most importantly, endorphins, or “happy hormones” that help to cope with bad mood, are produced. In short, start training, but do not forget the simple rules:
if you experience very strong cramping pain during menstruation, it is better to postpone the intensive training;
if you have dysmenorrhea, consult with your doctor about the possible loads – they could disrupt your cycle even more;
try not to drink coffee and Coke to cheer up before workouts: caffeine enhances menstrual pain;
if you attend a gym or studio, put on dark sportswear – just not to have complexes and not to be distracted during the workout;
drink more water: during menstruation the body loses more fluid;
if you have endometriosis or fibroids (diseases causing severe bleeding during menstruation), sport during menstruation is absolutely contraindicated.
In addition, the load must be adjusted depending on the type of fitness you are involved in.
According to a study published in 2008 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, jogging is the best way to cope with PMS. It is the ideal occupation for the days before menstruation. Choose the most comfortable and safest route – there will be no risk to get lost or stumble over a bump (injuries are more difficult to heal during menstruation). Do not plan any breakthrough in jogging for this time – keep jogging in your normal mode; later you will be able to increase the duration and the load. And in the days of the most severe bleeding, it is best to replace jogging with brisk walking in the fresh air.
Contrary to popular beliefs, swimming pools can and should be visited on “critical days”: water heals muscle spasms and pain. Forget about your impressive crawl – of course, it is not necessary. You can swim in a calm pace, or sign up for a water aerobics class with moderate exercise for the lower body. Note that the “Olympic” cold water can enhance muscle spasms so, if possible, choose a warm pool. Of course, we must not forget about hygiene: use a cotton swab or a special silicone mouthpiece.
In a gym
A good cardio is a real salvation for those whose underbelly swells and aches during menstruation. Training on a treadmill, an elliptical trainer or a stationary bike will expand blood vessels, improve blood circulation and relieve you of these symptoms. Among the weight exercises, select the ones that strengthen back muscles: they “unload” your waist. And try to make training a bit lighter than usual during menstruation: on these days, the body loses 300 extra calories a day.
In a group
Aerobics, dancing, martial arts – any activity that is enjoyable and slightly increases the heart rate will be useful during menstruation. The advantage of dance workouts is that they are not associated with the usual activities (which you find so difficult to be engaged in on these days), and thus require less motivation and will surely help you cheer up. There is evidence that during menstruation women’s memory improves significantly – use this to learn a new choreography.
Fitness at home
During menstruation, most women do not want to go out; they would prefer to just lie in front of TV. Why don’t you do this then? Instead of the series, you could watch a program from the fitness video library. Yogalates or Hatha Yoga would be ideal: stretching and asanas are especially recommended during menstruation. They will rid you of the feeling of heaviness, nausea, and overall fatigue. It is better to start doing exercises “from bottom up”: take turns working out and relaxing your feet and legs, then the pelvis, abdomen, and so on. Your training may be completed with meditation or breathing exercises. It improves your mood significantly, and you no longer need any TV series or a comforting cake.