Working Out While On Your Period
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional nor do I claim to know how to advise others on medical issues, administer medicine or know medical practices. If you do not feel well, please contact a health provider and describe your symptoms to them. I will post the links for the information in this post at the end.
*I want to preface this post by saying that not only ~women~ get their periods. I want to create a safe and inclusive space for all people. I see you, I acknowledge you. Also, even if you don't get your period, chances are pretty high that you know someone who does so this is for you too! (yes even you, Papi.)
Pictured above, you see the face of a woman determined to tackle the impossible...working out on the first day of her period. The hair should give you some indication to how well that went.
During this corona lock down, I've decided to carve out some quality quaran-time for myself in the form of moving my body. I've been doing pretty well but on this day, oh on this day, I had to dig DEEP to even get out of my bed. Who's been here before?
Why Workout On Your Period?
You might be wondering, "Why would she work out on her period?!?!"
I promise all my marbles are in my head! Exercise is great for your health for a number of reasons, a chief reason being the release of endorphins. These hormones are the body's natural pain relievers; they help inhibit our perception of pain. There are many more benefits to these hormones! They boost your pleasure as they reduce your pain so they promote a feeling of well-being and happiness and I don't know about you but I could definitely use some help feeling good during my period! Endorphins also boost self-esteem and help us want to make social attachments. When Aunt Flow comes to town, I do not feel myself, I do not feel cute, and I for sure don't feel social but a little bit of exercise makes all this a little easier, allowing me to stay my same happy, social, energetic self. Some research on animals also show that endorphins may help regulate appetite, although more research on humans need to be done. If future research confirms this, catch me on the treadmill every time I'm on my period because I can EAT when it's my time of the month....also because that machine will not see me at any other time.
Why Do We Get Symptoms During Our Period?
I'm not going to dive into the specifics of the body because the magic that goes on in there should really be explained by a more qualified person, so if I miss some details I apologize! In a nutshell, period symptoms, like most changes in the human body, have to do with hormone levels. When talking about the menstrual cycle, you're actually talking about the time from the first day of your period all the way until the first day of your next period, not just the few days when you're on your period. The menstrual cycle has phases and the phase where you have your period is called the follicular phase. At the start of this phase, or before your period, estrogen levels are low and toward the end of this phase, or the end of your period, estrogen levels rise again. It is in between this drop and rise of estrogen that we get moody, cravings, sleepy, gassy, extra sensitive physically and emotionally along with all the other great symptoms that come with having a uterus. Exercise helps with these symptoms by releasing our aforementioned little friends, endorphins! There are certain exercises that benefit us in other ways as well,it's important to find the exercises that suit you! The bottom line is moving your body is better than curling up in a ball and waiting for death, although I have BEEN THERE. I see you, I am you, we're in this together hun, but let's get moving!
Which Exercises Should I Do?
Okay, this is the section where only the strong will survive...
C A R D I O. I'm so sorry, I don't want this word here either trust me! But cardio is one of the most effective producers of endorphins. This explains why if you can survive a cardio session, you actually feel pretty good afterwards! Running is not the only form of cardio! My absolute favorite form of cardio is spinning/biking. Besides dealing with some temporary butt bruising, spinning is so much fun and such a good form of cardio. With this quarantine going on, we've all been thrown out of our gyms but if you have a bike or know Fulana's cousin's boyfriend has a bike then hop on that thing! Another form of cardio is swimming! Swimming is actually a really low-impact full body workout so you can get your heart rate up and rest your joints with this exercise. Then of course there's everyone's favorite....running. Listen, I think running gets a bad rep from people! Now, I am one of the biggest contributors to running's bad rep but I'm here to change my ways! Running is great! I am not being held hostage, I promise. You don't need any equipment except a good pair of shoes and you can run almost anywhere you are! Plus running helps you get to know your environment better and you might find some good writing or food spots along the way!
Cardio can be a lot for those who have especially painful periods. There are lighter forms of cardio such as walking your dog or dancing in your living room but there are also completely different forms of exercise to help with period symptoms.
*always be safe and aware of your surroundings when running and it's a good idea to run when there's daylight and preferably in or around public places like parks.
Yoga! My friends know yoga is my jam and jelly. Yoga helps your overall health in many ways but it also has a bunch of benefits specifically for helping while on your period! Period cramps are the contraction of muscles and the stretching in yoga helps to elongate those muscles back out, counteracting the tightness causing your pain. The deep breathing practices involved with yoga also help supply the body with oxygen-rich blood which fuel your muscles to move, helping to release tightness and relax your body. Yoga also helps with breast tenderness and cold sweats. One of my favorite movement flows happen to also be one of the best for period cramps! The cat-cow movement helps stretch out that lower abdomen region of the body where the cramps are mostly concentrated. This movement also helps gently stretch the lower back, another region of the body that a lot of people feel pain during their period. Child's pose is another relaxing position to stretch your lower back and just love yourself. I started my yoga journey on YouTube with the Yoga With Adriene channel, she's awesome and has videos for EVERYTHING, go check her out!
Okay lovelies, there you have it! Trust me, no one wants to caress a heat pad in bed and eat their weight in snacks more than me when I'm experiencing the wonders of uterushood. We must resist! Break the shackles of our cankles! Rebel against the tyranny of sore boobies! Just a few minutes of exercise can help improve your self-esteem, mood swings, cramps and body aches. Get out of your house, tend to your plants, walk your dog, stretch, and for our more ambitious ones...go for a run! You can even do home workouts in the comfort of your pajamas, just drag your booty out of your bed and move!
If you need any ideas or words of encouragement, I'm here! Email me at contactFaith@faithvazquez.com ! If you try any workouts feel free to tag me on instagram at @faithynicolette !
Be safe and please love your body.