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Menstruation can cause a slew of problems, including pain, digestive issues, and mood swings. Did you know that exercising during your period most days of the week can make you feel better? Low-intensity aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, biking, or swimming, produce chemicals that block pain.
Though the menstrual cycle is different for everyone, more than 50% of those who menstruate suffer from primary dysmenorrhea. Dysmenorrhea can be primary or secondary. The severe discomfort and cramping of primary dysmenorrhea are due to the excess production of prostaglandins - hormones that cause the uterus to contract.
One way to combat this pain is to engage in activities that release endorphins, the body’s stress- or pain-relieving hormones. Endorphins relieve pain by blocking the nerve cells receiving pain signals.
So, put down that heating pad and pick up your sneakers because we're about to show you how to keep moving during that time of the month.
Brisk walking is one of the best exercises women can do during their period. This easy and low-intensity exercise will improve your mood and relieve period pain. According to the NHS, a brisk walk means walking 3 miles per hour in which you can still talk but can't sing the words to a song.
According to one study, brisk walking is helpful in lowering psychological stress, abdominal pain, and the intensity of PMS symptoms. This exercise requires no equipment or expertise and has little chance of injury. Opt to brisk walk for 30 minutes every day to combat period pain.
Yoga is a form of exercise that stresses physical and mental well-being. Yoga is a
great exercise for period cramps that incorporates both movement and mindfulness can lessen the discomfort of menstrual symptoms. In one study, women who did yoga for around 12 weeks experienced reduced menstrual cramps, more fitness, and overall improved life quality.
Yoga can also lessen PMS symptoms, including anxiety and headaches. Stretches to relieve period cramps include fish, cobra, and cow pose.
Whether you prefer restorative poses to calm the mind and relax the body or more active poses to release tension and boost circulation, yoga has got you covered.
Swimming or other water sports are gentle and joint-friendly exercises to incorporate during your period. According to a study, the menstrual cramps of young women were shorter and less severe when they exercised in the water.
For 12 weeks, the women exercised in the water for at least an hour three days a week. The exercise consisted of a warm-up session for 10 minutes, a five-minute cooling-down session, and aerobic exercise for 40 to 45 minutes.
Plus, with all that splashing around, you'll be producing endorphins in no time.
If you're looking for a workout that combines fresh air, exercise, and a beautiful view, hiking is the way to go. This outdoor workout can help increase endorphins and relieve menstrual pain while keeping you in touch with nature.
Note: If normal therapies and exercise cannot manage your period pain, it can indicate secondary dysmenorrhea. Medical conditions like endometriosis, infection, myomas, adenomyosis, fibroids, and ovarian cysts cause this. Although not life-threatening, if you experience abnormal secondary period pain, such as severe cramping, heavy bleeding, or pain that interferes with your daily activities, it's important to consult a doctor.
But for most of us, a little exercise can go a long way – get up, get moving, and feel the endorphins flow!
Did you know 1 in 5 teens in the U.S. misses school because of their period? Courtesy Cups is on a mission to give back by donating one cup for every cup purchased locally. We not only invented the first portable menstrual cup sanitizer, but we’re committed to Changing the Cycle of period poverty through education and advocacy. Here's how you can get involved.
- Kural, M., Noor, N. N., Pandit, D., Joshi, T., & Patil, A. (2015). Menstrual characteristics and prevalence of dysmenorrhea in college-going girls. Journal of family medicine and primary care, 4(3), 426–431. https://doi.org/10.4103/2249-4863.161345
- New Guidance on Diagnosing and Reducing Period Pain Can Help Adolescents Thrive. (n.d.). ACOG. https://www.acog.org/news/news-releases/2018/11/new-guidance-on-diagnosing-and-reducing-period-pain-can-help-adolescents-thrive
- Endorphins: What They Are and How to Boost Them. (n.d.). Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/23040-endorphins
- NHS website. (2022, December 23). Walking for health. nhs.uk. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/running-and-aerobic-exercises/walking-for-health/
- Ibrahim, M., Yousef, A., Abo Elainin, M., & Osman, D. (2020). Effect of Walking on Physiological Stress in Premenstrual Syndrome:A Randomized Controlled Trial. Egyptian Journal of Physical Therapy, 3(1), 16-23. doi: 10.21608/ejpt.2020.40907.1014
- Yonglitthipagon, P., Muansiangsai, S., Wongkhumngern, W., Donpunha, W., Chanavirut, R., Siritaratiwat, W., Mato, L., Eungpinichpong, W., & Janyacharoen, T. (2017). Effect of yoga on the menstrual pain, physical fitness, and quality of life of young women with primary dysmenorrhea. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies, 21(4), 840–846. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbmt.2017.01.014
- Dysmenorrhea: Painful Periods. (n.d.-b). ACOG. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/dysmenorrhea-painful-periods