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9 Tips For Working Out On Your Period

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Are you wondering if there are any special “rules” or tips for working out on your period? Today I discuss getting your workout in even if you’re getting a visit from Aunt Flo! Note: This post contains affiliate links. 

working out on your period

Working out on your period is a topic that was suggested to me by a reader.

And I think it’s a good one!

For me, working out during my cycle has changed quite a bit since having kids.

Since the entire female population has to deal with Aunt Flo, I don’t know why I haven’t talked about this before!

Despite your PMS symptoms or how often you do regular exercise, I hope it helps you stay on track with your fitness goals!

But can I just take a little moment to rant?

First of all, let’s just talk about how weird and annoying periods are the year after you have a baby.

I mean, I expected hormonal changes, but I kind of though hormone levels would flatten out a bit within a few months.

But I didn’t know that my period symptoms would change or that it could come back totally differently. (Hello, extremely painful periods.)

I was told that I wouldn’t get mine back until I stopped breastfeeding, but I would consider that myth BUSTED.

I got my period back within three months of giving birth to BOTH kids, even though I was breastfeeding.

At this time I was eager to get back to the gym but this made it extra frustrating! Goodby intense exercise for me.

Related Reading: 5 Tips On Postpartum Core Restoration from A Physical Therapist

Plus after that, it was all wonky and confused for almost a whole year after making its return.

(Did that happen with yours after having a baby? How did you go about working out with your period in that first year?)

But what I want to talk about is working out on your period if you have really uncomfortable periods.

I’m sure no one has GREAT periods (lol), but mine are really, really, uncomfortable.

P.S. Has anyone tried those period panties before? Just curious.

I had my tubes tied after this last c-section, and my doc told me that things might be “PINCHY” for a while.

Psst! I recently created an online nutrition course jam-packed with information on food mindset, exercise science, and nutrition education so that I could pass that knowledge on to you. Check it out!

(And I thought things were weird after my first c-section.)

I had NO idea that pinchy would mean that it feels like there is a tiny demon pinching my uterus, tubes, and ovaries during my periods.

Yes, I get pinchy demon cramps.

Nothing like pinchy demon cramps when working out on your period. 😉

working out on your period face
The face I make when pinchy demon cramps are in full swing.

I’m sorry but I have no other way to describe it. Lol. It seriously feels like there are tiny creatures inside me pinching and prodding me.

Of course, it’s hard to know how much of it is from scar tissue from the removal & severing of parts of my body.

That’s right, I had a complete tubal where they removed the little weird finger-looking things (fimbriae?) from the ends of your tubes.

(They showed me them in a beaker later!)

With the method of tubal ligation that was performed, I am super confident I won’t be having any more pregnancies.

For me, this is worth the menstrual cramps.

Anyway, my pinchy demon cramps are unlike any other period-related pain I have ever had. It’s sharp.

And it has literally brought me to my knees and made me feel like I wanted to throw up before.

Related Reading: How To Exercise With Kids At Home

I know it doesn’t sound normal, but I’m told it’s pretty common in the first few months.

It was the worst during my first few months postpartum, and I think it’s improving.

Anyway, these cramps have made it hard to want to work out on my period!

working out on your period

I am sorry for any of you who also experience extremely painful cycles like I do.

So since I know a lot of you can relate to working out on your period despite the discomfort, let’s talk about that.

Is it OK to work out during periods?

Most definitely. For those of you who don’t know, I am a personal trainer, so working out regularly is a big part of my life.

Taking an entire week off from working out isn’t really an option.

I at least want to do a little strength training or light aerobic exercise.

The form you have selected does not exist.

I do, however, tend to take the really bad days off. So these tips for working out on your period are just personal ideas. 🙂 I hope they help!

9 Tips For Working Out On Your Period

1. Listen to your body.

How does exercise affect your period?

It’s different for everyone.

Honestly, there are days that you SHOULD take off! If you are borderline sick or things feel extra tight, your body might need a break.

(Check out my natural muscle recovery tips.)

If you are feeling sick/crampy enough to skip work or other regularly scheduled activities, I’d also take a break from working out for one day.

Sometimes the bloat itself is enough to make you want to lie down. There is no way I’d be doing strenuous exercise during these days.

I think there are days that suffering through a workout is going to backfire emotionally. So consider that.

For me, sometimes the thought of putting jeans on while I’m on my cycle is basically the worst thing I can possibly imagine. Lol.

Otherwise, if you aren’t sure, I’d opt for a low-impact activity like walking or yoga.

I once read that during your period, you can burn up to 500 extra calories per day. (Since your body is doing a lot of extra work.)

I don’t know where that source is now, but I believe it since I’m always a little extra “snacky” during the first two days of my period.

So know that your body is probably burning a few extra calories whether you’re working out or not.

2. Moving your body a little is better than nothing.

You don’t have to go run a half-marathon or have a heavy-lifting day to get a good workout.

I’d consider walking for 30 minutes a workout because it really is better than nothing.

You still get your heart and lungs pumping, and your circulation is going to improve. Plus, those endorphins are totally worth it!

You kind of have to decide if you are using your period as an excuse or if it’s really impacting you.

Either way, moving your body will help with digestion and sore muscles, and could potentially help with cramping.

So just remember that even 30 minutes is “worth it!”

Tip: On days when you don’t think a workout is in the cards, try to focus on nutrition. Keep your salt intake low and your fruit & veggie intake high.

3. Try a sports-specific tampon or pad.

They make great feminine products that are super helpful for working out on your period. (I like Playtex Sport.)

If you haven’t tried a sports or movement-related tampon or pad, you really should!

They are designed to prevent leaks but are often a little more comfortable and flexible.

I absolutely have to use these because when I move a lot I tend to leak more, which has made me want to skip the gym in the past.

Not anymore! Seriously, just give them a try, and it might change your whole attitude about exercising while you’re on your cycle.

P.S. I have never tried a menstrual cup, but it might be a good idea for those of you who are open to it!

4. Drink extra water.

Bloating is sooo annoying during your period, right? It’s seriously the last thing we ladies need.

Drinking extra water might sound counterintuitive, but it’s actually going to help.

Water is going to help your body “move” things along and it’s going to help with sodium.

High sodium influences fluid retention, so if you don’t drink enough, you’re going to stay bloated.

If you’re working out on your period, this can be super uncomfortable! Drink up!

Related Reading: 13 Easy Ways To Drink More Water Every Day

working out on your cycle

5. Allow yourself to take a painkiller.

Working out on your period can be mildly painful to super painful, I get it!

I don’t personally like to take pain medication unless my cramps are interfering with my ability to take care of my family or day-to-day activities.

(And unfortunately, they have totally taken over some days.)

But you better believe that I have taken the occasional Ibuprofen after getting my period back since baby.

No one should have to endure heavy periods, breast tenderness, AND pain!

If your day-to-day activities are compromised because of your period pain, take a Pamprin or something! It’s okay!

You don’t have to “tough it out.” I mean, if a man were to get cramps like ours each month, they’d be in bed all day for sure! (Lol.)

6. Wear dark colors & more forgiving clothes.

Working out with period = extra uncomfortable. I get it!

Being on my period can affect my self-esteem and confidence. (Really enjoy those mood changes.) Know that I’m always super bloated during the whole dang thing.

And, I’m low key always thinking about whether or not I have any Tampons in my purse, or if I’m wearing the right clothes in case of a leak, etc.

Depending on what kind of menstrual flow I’m experiencing, this is a must.

That can affect my workout, and I know I’m not the only one.

My absolute FAVORITE leggings and workout gear are everything Athleta.

What should I wear to the gym when I have my period?

My tip would be to wear those workout clothes that are a little more forgiving, a little looser, and that are darker in color.

(To be honest, I bust out my workout clothes that got stretched out during pregnancy.)

You don’t want any extra pressure on your belly, and you definitely don’t want to run the risk of a very visible leak!

7. Try something gentle instead of your norm.

Which exercise is best during periods? Floor work like yoga and pilates are great if you’re on your period.

I’m not saying there’s any “best exercise” for when you’re on your period, but I highly suggest giving yourself grace here.

(Check out this post on yoga for stay at home moms.)

You can also just walk. I tend to skip intense workouts during this time.

Your muscles will still get used, and calories will still burn! I don’t know if others experience this, but when I exert myself a lot, I tend to experience heavier bleeding.

I avoid that by taking it easy.

For me, my first day or two (and the day before my cycle) are really bad as far as cramping.

Then, after that, I feel semi-normal and get my energy back. So if that happens to you, save those great workouts for mid-cycle.

The gentle stuff is perfect for the first part for me.

Working out on your period doesn’t have to be extreme! But you can still keep your weight loss goals on track by moving.

Light cardio is best!

Related Reading: 7 Easy Ways to Revamp Your Exercise Routine

tips on exercise while you're on your period

8. Be sure to take extra time to stretch.

Working out on period = extra tight muscles. At least for me! When I’m on my period, I get a super tight back and realllly tight hips.

I’m sure there’s some science behind this and hormones (think estrogen and progesterone) similar to what happens during pregnancy, but I already have enough pain to tell me that there’s definitely something out of whack going on during this time of the month. 😉

The tightness that I feel during my cycle makes quite a few things impossible without a long stretching sesh prior to my workout.

If your muscles tighten up when you’re on your period, be careful not to injure yourself!

Tack on an extra 5 minutes to your foam rolling or stretching routine before AND after your workout.

9. Try a home workout instead of going out.

Here’s the thing about physical activity: some days I wake up knowing that I just don’t feel good.

It’s not really worth it for me to drive all the way to the gym if I’m going to be uncomfortable and half-assed.

I still want to get my workout in, I just don’t want other people’s eyes on me. Lol. This is where home workouts come in handy.

For a short, core-focused workout I use Restore The Core!

There you have it, ladies! I hope my tips for working out on your period help.

Do you have any other tips for working out on your period? Help a girl out and share them below!

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  1. Thank you Chantal! I shared the post on the community Facebook page for other readers! Great idea and tips.

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