It’s so exciting to finally get into the groove of a new workout routine and starting to see results.
That is until something comes along that hinders your motivation: your period.
With hormones controlling your thoughts, this may seem like to the inevitable end of your path to a healthier you—but it doesn’t have to be that way. While maintaining your current workout schedule is suggested, for some of us this seems easier said than done.
Here are a few tips to kill your workout while battling off menstrual symptoms:
Believe is or not, cramps can actually be alleviated by exercise. According to an article on Everyday Health “aerobic workouts…produce brain chemicals called endorphins that help block pain.” Although heating pads are a big help, you can create a similar effect by doing abdominal exercises. Focusing on your abdominal will generate heat in that area, soothing your cramps. So if cramps are holding you back, try going for a jog or doing some crunches.
Want to prevent cramps in the future? Maintain a regular workout schedule all month. According to WebMD, “Women who exercise regularly often have less menstrual pain.”
When you’re on your period you sometimes feel unclean and don’t want to add to that by getting sweaty. If this is the case, there are multiple exercises you can do in the shower or bathtub. In the shower, stand with your feet together and raise your heels. Lower down and repeat for 20 reps at time or hold in place to work your calf muscles. You can also squeeze your abs for 20 second intervals or use your shampoo and conditioner in place of hand weights to work your arms. If you’re settling in for a bath, you can still use the hand-weights technique and ad some crunches.
Even as we eat healthy, cravings happen—especially when we’re on our period. Remember, you have the ability to resist and some simple replacements can aid in the resistance. Instead of reaching for a slice of chocolate cake, head straight to the source: eating a bar of 70% or higher chocolate not only cuts out the added calories and chunk, but has additional health benefits.
Another common craving is soda. If you crave the fizz, try a seltzer water instead. If it’s a certain flavor like citrus, pour yourself a glass of water and squeeze in some lemon and lime. Another common craving we link with soda is caffeine: replace that cola with a cup of green tea for a healthier alternative—and if served warm, it can help sooth cramps.
An easy yoga session at home or at a studio can be a great solution if you are feeling faint. Yoga’s emphasis on breathing will ensure that you don’t become short of breath and you can do many poses sitting or lying down to help you feel more grounded. If you are being active while feeling light-headed, remember to stay hydrated and don’t force anything—if you need a break, take it.
Added bonus: Many yoga poses help alleviate cramps either by engaging or stretching the core. Some simple examples are cat/cow (arching your back up and down on all fours), child’s pose (reaching forward on the ground as your feet are pressed together and your body rests between your knees) and reclining bound angel pose (laying on your back with your feet together and knees out the side).
Sometimes you need a rest and that’s okay. Having rest days is important for all fitness levels, but you don’t have to lose your jive by taking a whole week of them. If you’re too fatigued to do a full-on workout, try taking an active rest day. Some ways to spend your active rest day include: going for a walk, taking a hike, an easy bike ride, or going for a swim. Feel free to bring a friend along on your rest day activity to keep you moving, help you de-stress, or be there for you in case your menstrual symptoms take a turn for the worse.