While some people don't mind working out when they're on their period, others can't even stand the thought of it. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, if you do choose to break a sweat when you're menstruating, you may want to be strategic about what kind of exercise you decide on.
Your body is performing a pretty amazing feat during your period. Your uterus is shedding its lining, for crying out loud, so it's no surprise that we deal with bloating, indigestion, fatigue, and mood swings at this time of the month. Let's not forget the more bizarre side effects you deal with on your period, like clumsiness. Yep, that's a real thing, and we'll explain it more later.
With all these things going on in your body, you may want to avoid the following workouts. And if you're looking for alternatives, we've got you covered.
High-Intensity Interval Running
We all know that exhaustion is a common side effect of your period. It's due to a dip in estrogen that happens right before we menstruate, which also accounts for brain fog. Working out during your period will actually help you feel better, but you want to choose the kind of workout that will help you feel more energized, not completely wiped out.
As great as interval running is to burn fat and build endurance, it's a very taxing workout, and all that high-impact, rapid movement in your lower body might exacerbate your menstrual cramps and leave you feeling totally wrecked.
What you can do instead: Taking a brisk walk outside in the sunshine might be just what you need. Walking at a solid pace for an extended period of time certainly counts as cardio; plus, when you're outside in nature, you'll see a boost in your mood while simultaneously revving up your heart rate. That's a win-win!
Crowded Group Fitness Classes
Let's face it. Sometimes people are annoying AF when you're already feeling irritable. The last thing you want is someone crowding your space, flinging sweat on you, and accidentally (or not so accidentally) stealing your workout equipment. And you definitely don't want to deal a shrieking, overenthusiastic instructor. Dodge those scenarios by steering clear of those wildly busy group fitness classes, especially the ones during peak after-work hours.
What you can do instead: Stake out a corner to yourself in the gym where nobody can bother you and do a strength-training session on your own. Grab a set of dumbbells and do this full-body workout. You can plug into your favorite playlist and simply get to work.
Fast-Paced Workouts That Use a Lot of Equipment
Alyssa Dweck, MD, gynecologist in New York, and author of The Complete A to Z For Your V: A Woman's Guide to Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your Vagina, told POPSUGAR that many women face inexplicable clumsiness when they're on their period.
"You're eating tons more salt and not necessarily drinking so much water, so you may get a little more swelling," Dr. Dweck said. She says the swollen hands and feet can make you more accident-prone than usual. "If your sleep is interrupted during your PMS time, clumsiness can be a result," she added. Additionally, the sheer fact that you're so tired adds to your clumsiness.
That's why Dr. Dweck recommends being extra careful with what kind of workout equipment you're using when you're on your period. If there's a workout or fitness class you usually go to that uses all sorts of stuff — kettlebells, barbells, pull-up rings, etc. — you may want to consider something that's a bit more low-key. The last thing you want to deal with is a busted toe after you drop a dumbbell on it. Ouch.
What you can do instead: There are endless bodyweight exercises you can do. Try this full-body, no-equipment HIIT workout, and if you're not feeling that, at least opt in for using weight machines rather than free weights. That ensures you're a bit more protected — and nothing will fall on your head.
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