working out on your period
Lately, I've been using the blogs to answer some questions I hear all the time. My thought is that if a bunch of you girls are asking the same thing, there are probably lots of other women wondering about it, too. And so by publishing it on the blog, I'm hoping we can make it a little easier for people to get answers to their questions.
And that leads me to one question I get seriously all the time:
Is it a good idea to work out on your period?
I totally get where you're coming from. When you're on your period, you're usually battling at least a little fatigue, mood swings, some cramping and, let's be honest, a lot of other junk. (That's literally why I developed the Miss Congeniality boost — because I was sick of if!) While you're menstruating and not feeling your best, it can be pretty tempting to skip your workouts. Heck, you might even feel like doing so is a good way to practice self-care.
And, look, if your body and mind really need a break, by all means, take a breather. Whether you're on your period or not, if your body is telling you that you've been overdoing it, you better listen and cool down. If you don't, you could get injured or just plain burnt out.
But beyond that, I actually think there are a lot of good reasons to work out while you're on your period. You can totally do it safely, and your body is actually primed for muscle-building during that time.
So, the short answer is yes, you can work out on your period. But we can dig a little deeper than that.
Reasons to work out on your period
#1: It can help you feel better
When you do some high-intensity exercise, your body releases endorphins in your brain. Not only do these feel-good chemicals help to keep your mental state solid even when you're dealing with PMS and your actual period, but they also help to get rid of prostaglandins. These are hormones your body makes during your period (great, more hormones) that can cause inflammation and pain.
#2: It can reduce bloating
If you're one of those women who gets some serious belly bloat during your period, a sweat sesh can help. When you get your sweat on, your body has a way to get rid of some of the water it's retaining, which can help banish bloat.
#3: And other symptoms
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that "for many women, regular aerobic exercise lessens PMS symptoms," including fatigue and depression. So if your PMS and period really take a toll on you, consider choosing exercise that will get your heart rate up. Running, biking, swimming, or one of the workouts in our LSF App are all great options.
#4: You can build muscle
Researchers are pretty much just starting to look into how our periods affect our athletic ability, but even early studies connect muscle mass gains and training during your period. In other words, your menstrual cycle seems to be a prime time to strengthen and tone your body thanks to an increase in testosterone during this time.
Beyond the actual exercise itself, a key part of building muscle comes down to making sure you're getting enough protein. If you don't, your body won't have the raw materials it needs to repair and build muscle.
If getting protein is a challenge for you, especially when you're on your period and probably not feeling up to putting in a ton of effort in the kitchen, we've got you, girl. Our plant-based protein powder has 20 grams of protein per scoop!
#5: You might see bigger gains
One study looked at women's athletic performance right after their period started and found that they saw not just increased muscle mass, but also improved performance. This could be because estrogen and progesterone are at basically their lowest levels at that point. So if you're looking to PR, the first few days of your cycle might be the perfect time!
Reasons to rest and recover on your period
Okay, I just gave you five pretty good reasons to dig into a workout when you're on your period, even if you're not feeling totally up to it. But don't push yourself too much. Your body's doing hard work while it's menstruating, so give yourself lots of grace and plenty of time to rest and recover.
If you do a really hard workout one day, check in with yourself the next day before you lace your sneakers up for another major sweat sesh. You might find that your body's asking for a long walk or gentle yoga instead of a serious workout. Listen to it, and you'll feel better throughout your period.
You can also do some things to support yourself, whether you decide to push for a PR or take it easy. Practice lots of self-care and look for natural ways to supplement your energy levels. I know it's tempting to dive into the coffee when your period is making you feel tired, but it can make your cramps worse. Fortunately, there are alternatives. I love a little green tea and ginseng action for a natural pick-me-up! (Psst! You can find both in our Wing Woman boost. She's great when you're feeling a little sluggish.)
Yes, our periods are a total drag. But there's no need to skip your workout, which could leave you feeling even crappier and more tired. Listen to what your body needs, but if you're feeling up to it, get that sweat on, babe!