It can sometimes be hard to figure out what type of movement you should be doing throughout your menstrual cycle so let’s talk about all the different aspects of exercise during each phase of the menstrual cycle.
It’s important to note that any form of movement is beneficial for the body. Every individual is different and you may not feel up to doing a particular type of exercise on a certain day of your cycle and that’s okay! However, let’s look at some suggestions for exercising throughout the menstrual cycle.
Exercise while menstruating
Day 1 of your period is also considered day 1 of your cycle. It could last between 3 and 7 days. It’s perfectly normal to feel fatigue and not up to working out and that’s perfectly fine, however, if you are wanting to exercise, here are some suggested movements.
Yoga and stretching- these movements can release tension throughout the body and even can ease cramps and stress.
Walking and light cardio- walking can be beneficial in all parts of your cycle. It’s a simple yet valuable form of movement that can help relax the body while still getting that heart rate up.
Light strength training- if you are used to normal strength training at high intensity, this may be the time to cut back on weight due to fatigue. Make sure to listen to your body!
Exercise during the follicular phase
This part of your cycle normally occurs from day 1 to 11. During this phase, the hormone follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is produced by the body and signals the ovaries to create eggs for the ovulation phase. After menstruating, your estrogen levels tend to increase as your body prepares to release an egg. This is why you may feel more energized at this time!
Strength training- normal strength training is perfect for this time because of high energy levels. If you are looking to push yourself, try increasing weight during this time or increasing reps.
High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT)- if you’re feeling energetic during this time, try out HIIT! It’s a super fast paced form of exercise and can also increase VO2 max which is a measure of aerobic fitness. This is how much oxygen your body uses during exercise.
Exercise while ovulating
Ovulation occurs roughly between day 12-17 and can happen for 3-5 days. During this time, the luteinising-hormone (LH) is high because it triggers the release of the egg. LH along with FSH are both high so you may still feel high energy during this time.
Practicing normally as you would during the follicular phase can be done during this time. However, if you are feeling the need to slow things down, go for it! Or, if you are feeling even stronger and ready to spice things up, go for even higher weight and reps during this time.
Exercise during the luteal phase
The luteal phase is the last phase before menstruation and can last between 12-14 days and takes place on days 18-30 depending on your specific cycle. During the first part of this phase, you may still be feeling high energy from ovulation however, this may decrease as you get closer to menstruation due to potential PMS symptoms. During the luteal phase, a spike in progesterone levels may make some people feel drowsy.
During this time, you can still continue with normal exercise but may feel the need to dial it back due to low energy levels and/or drowsiness.
Yoga or pilates- these forms of movement are good for increasing overall strength while also relieving some of those annoying PMS symptoms. Yoga and pilates can also release muscle tension in the body.
Low-intensity cardio- this type of aerobic exercise has also been found to relieve possible PMS symptoms. Not pushing yourself like you would during the follicular and ovulation phase may be beneficial.
It’s important to listen to your body all throughout your menstrual cycle. What works for one person may not work for someone else at a certain phase during the cycle and that’s perfectly okay. Whatever type of movement you are feeling up to and capable of..do it!