written by Mahaswetha Ghosh - BootCamp YELLOW Running Coach, Ultra - Runner, Corporate Leader, on Aug 28, 2018 in FITNESS
One of the most common questions all of us have is should I workout around my periods?
There will be grandmothers advising you against while there will be at one of your friends who will swear on benefits of working out the whole month.
Before I help you answer this question let us try to understand the mensuration cycle and how everchanging hormones oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone effects the body around the month
A typical mensuration cycle may vary anywhere from 24 to 36 days and can be broadly classified into two phases –
1. Follicular phase – it starts with the day the period begins and goes till the body ovulates. It is the time when testosterone and oestrogen are increasing in the system making the body raring to go and get some workout.
2. Luteal phase – after ovulations starts the luteal phase, which signifies increase in progesterone and body temperature and decrease in oestrogen. This phase is what is popularly known as PMS with symptoms we all face food cravings, mood swings, bloating, and constipation.
So here is the trick, if we can sync our workout routine with our changing hormone levels, it is highly possible to ensure that our fitness journey wouldn’t go off track.
This is a week by week breakdown of bodily functions and an almost perfect workout to go with it
Week 1 (Day 3- Day 9) – this is the time when the period has just gotten over. The body starts increasing male and female hormones in the body making it the easiest to build muscle and strengthen tissues. Thus an ideal time to tone up and go for tougher workouts.
Week 2 (Day 7 – Day 14) – this is the week when hormones are at its peak as body is preparing for ovulation. Hence this is apt time for going for high load or intense workouts. Since oestrogen is at its peak it also helps burn fat and efficiently digest carbohydrates and hence making this a push/perform time of month.
Week 3 (Day 15 – Day 22) – this is the beginning of the luteal phase and hence the energy levels start going down and the body temperature increases. This will be easily noticeable by a marked increase in sweating during workout, difficulty in going for longer durations, increase in food cravings. Well all is not lost; the good news is that during this phase calories burn the fastest, almost 11 percent more. This is perfect time to do high cardio workouts like speed running, aerobics.
Week 4 (Day 23-Day28) - the week when period has started or will start any moment. There will be cramps, bloating and constipation. Also you will be losing red blood cells i.e. iron and hence you will be low on energy. Increasing the calories intake from 1700 to about 2000 per day will reduce the stress in the body and help you cope better. Yoga stretches or light exercises like walking, jogging or swimming are the ideal choices during this time.
So the answer to training around cycle days is both yes or no. The fun is to strike a balance between training, calories and rest. As women we are conditioned to starve our bodies even if we are exercising and that is where we go wrong. Eating nutrient dense calories, good fats such as Avocado, fish, nuts & seeds give much needed energy and ensure hormonal balance in our bodies.
Some more practical tips for solely women who love to exercise –
- At least once a week go for a slow conversation paced workout. It will reduce stress from nervous system and also help in recovery of muscles
- Keeping track of your body performance during the month especially around periods, it will help you understand your body more intimately.
- Stimulators such as Soy and Caffeine can cause hormonal imbalance and hence should be consumed in moderation.
- Choose natural options like green tea, fibre rich food, vitamin B rich food to boost body’s strength and immunity
The idea is to not ditch the workout but choose the right kind. If you are in pain and bloated, choose simple movements like jumping jacks, lunges or even walking up and down the stairs a few times. These can easily be done in comfort of your home and will assist you in beating the pain by releasing feel good hormones.
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