17 December 2016

Is it Okay to Exercise During Menstruation?

By Karen Ficarelli

A common question among women's fitness groups is whether or not it is healthy to exercise during menstruation. While many fears and beliefs about our monthly cycle have changed over the years, whether or not strenuous activity is right for every woman is probably best determined on a case by case basis.

Each woman is different both physically and mentally. Women who have a heavy flow may find that increased activity causes them to bleed even more. Other women have reported a decrease in the length of their cycle and an alleviation of cramps by exercising straight through their monthly period.
While it is never good to bleed too heavily, foregoing a whole week of exercise is unacceptable to most women who have grown accustomed to a women's workout routine. As a personal trainer, I have found that by having some light exercises to offer to the ladies gives them an alternative to just sitting out the entire week. Instead of running, a brisk walk will keep your body stay active, without jostling your uterus and aggravating your symptoms. Strength training exercises are fine and you can lessen the amount of weights, squats or other exercises that might increase your blood flow.
If you are worried about the messiness of a heavy flow, you might want to wear a tampon when you exercise during your period. Just remember to keep it changed regularly to control bacterial infection. You might want to wear a pair of bike shorts under a pair of loose fitting shorts for protection against spills.

Women have come a long way from the times of our ancestors, when women were cordoned off during their time of the month. However, we still have the blessing of a body that is engineered for childbirth and therefore from the time of puberty until menopause a woman's body will automatically ready itself for the possibility of pregnancy. Although month after month it's hard to think of this time as something wonderful, without it, we wouldn't be much different than our male counterparts.
Keeping your body hydrated is very important to your women's fitness program but even more so during your period. A healthy diet that is low in sodium is also a must before and during your cycle. Salt tends to intensify bloating and inflammation, which trigger cramps and back pain that will make you feel worse. Exercise, especially walking helps to decrease inflammation and relieve bloating.
Intense exercise, such as those performed by professional or extreme athletes, may cause amenorrhea or the termination of your menstrual period. This is generally temporary and reverses naturally when the exercise regimen is moderated. Since there are many reasons for amenorrhea, consult your doctor if your period becomes irregular, to make sure there are not some other underlying health problems that you need to be aware of.

The important thing is to listen to your body and get to know it. If you feel you need to take it easy, then do so. Don't let your period be an excuse to get out of exercise, but don't push yourself to do something that your body is telling you not to. It's your body and your right to exercise, go out for a walk and if you feel like a slow jog, go for it.

However, if you feel you need to take a day off and rest, then by all means allow your body that time for rejuvenation. The following day, you'll probably feel better and will be ready to increase your women's workout routine.

Karen Ficarelli is the founder and CEO of Fitness4Her.com, a diet, exercise program and women's fitness blog, developed especially for women. A mother of three, Karen knows how hard it is to fit everything into a busy schedule. A fitness author, personal trainer, Pilate's instructor, sports nutritionist, fitness model, wife and mom, Karen is passionate about helping other women reach their fitness goals. She knows firsthand that the desire to attain a healthy, slim and well-toned body is just as important as any other dream that a woman can have. But going a step further, Karen understands that to achieve that dream, you first must believe in it. Think it, believe it, achieve it.

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