There’s no scientific reason that you should skip your workouts through your time of the month. Actually, there is evidence that shows exercise can be helpful throughout your period.
Periods can make us feel bloated, fatigued, hungry etc! The period is a complex time from a hormonal standpoint. “Both Progesterone and Oestrogen are at their lowest during the entire length of the period phase of the menstrual cycle, which can make people feel tired and less energetic”. Exercises induces natural endorphins helping elevate your mood and making you feel better.
To get your biggest rush of endorphins your period is a perfect time to do a gentle HIIT workout; this will alleviate cramps, headaches or back pain as endorphins are a natural pain killer leaving you with a ‘feel good’ feeling. Also, yoga, pilates or going for a walk are the best exercises to do if you usually bleed heavily. These exercises are gentler but will still make you feel better for moving and releasing your endorphins.
During your period your weight may fluctuate, and this is totally normal. Women usually gain 3-5 pounds throughout their time of the month; this could be a number of reasons:
Hormonal Changes- Hormonal Changes can cause weight gain by increasing water retention. Oestrogen and Progesterone also control the way your body regulates fluid. When these hormones fluctuate, the tissues in your body accumulate more water, resulting in water retention.
Bloating- Period bloating or stomach cramps can make your clothes feel tight and uncomfortable. This isn’t true weight gain, but you might feel like you’ve put on weight. During your period, hormonal changes increase gas in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract and cause bloating. Water retention may also cause bloating. Stomach cramps are caused by chemical called Prostaglandins make your uterus contract and shed its lining, causing the abdominal pain during your period.
Food cravings or overeating- Progesterone is an appetite stimulant, so as this increases you might eat more than usual. Oestrogen also regulates Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that controls mood and reduces appetite. When Oestrogen drops before your period, so does Serotonin resulting in a bigger appetite. Low Serotonin increases sugar cravings which increases your calories resulting in weight gain.
Decrease in Magnesium- When your period begins, Magnesium levels gradually decrease, which can provoke sugar cravings contributing to weight gain. Magnesium is a mineral that regulates your hydration levels, so low magnesium can cause dehydration. Dehydration can mask itself as hunger. It can make you crave sugary foods when your just thirsty.
With all of this in mind when you’re near your time of the month expect the scales to go up but do not be disheartened by this, it’s all part of your natural cycle and is perfectly normal for you to gain a few pounds. There are so many physical and mental benefits to exercise so although you may just feel like snuggling up on the sofa with a tub of ice cream, remember how good you feel after your workout and use that as your motivation to keep moving throughout your time of the month.