When the first day of our period strikes, many of us find no greater comfort than curling up with a hot water bottle, our favourite organic chocolate bar and a Netflix binge. The thought of exercising while menstruating may seem unappealing at first, but gentle exercise can help keep your mind and body healthy throughout each phase of your cycle, even on days requiring a pad, tampon, or nudie cup.
While you may want to give HIIT and yogic inversions a miss on your heaviest days, period-friendly exercise can relieve everything from hormone-related low mood, abdominal cramping, bloating and water retention, and if all else fails – it’ll provide a healthy distraction from your most bothersome period symptoms.
From restorative yoga to autumn strolls in your local park, we’ve listed our favourite period-friendly workouts here at &SISTERS HQ:
While the most eco-conscious among us might already have cycling built into our daily routines, cycling may not be an option for those of us with a lengthy commute. When we’re menstruating, intense cardio can be both uncomfortable and tough on our system, but cycling gets the blood and endorphins pumping without stressing your body. Now that the leaves are changing colour and the air is cooling down, a post-work cycle can also be the ultimate mindful meditation – so, as you pedal and your heart rate slowly increases, notice the autumnal sights, the feeling of cold air in your lungs and the smell of hearty home cooking for a gently invigorating workout.
Some women have been blessed with little to no period cramping, but many of us know the feeling of uterine contractions all too well. When cramps make an appearance, restorative yoga can be the ultimate form of self care as it reduces stress, period pain and feelings of lethargy. Unlike more physically demanding forms of yoga like vinyasa or ashtanga, restorative yoga focuses more on achieving mental and physical relaxation. Many poses involve gentle stretching or lying in various positions, and sessions are often ended with a calming meditation (and if you’re lucky, a lavender eye pillow). You may also wish to speak with your instructor before class begins to let them know you’re menstruating – they can then suggest modifications to make your experience more comfortable.
As much of the world is becoming more sedentary, making time for a good old-fashioned walk has never been more important, during your period or otherwise. Walking is gentle on joints and ligaments that can be more prone to injury during menstruation, and continuous movement can help flush excess fluid from the body. If you’re feeling bloated, lethargic or generally unwell, a brief autumn stroll can be just the healthy pick-me-up you need. Walk alone for mindful reflection, or grab a group of friends and walk around your local park with an organic herbal tea in hand.
Summer may be well behind us, but swimming can be enjoyed year-round. Head to your local indoor swimming pool for the ultimate period-friendly workout. Simply arm yourself with one of our 100% organic cotton tampons or our nudie cup, and slip into your favourite swimming costume. Swimming has been shown to be beneficial for both physical and mental health, as the sensation of floating and being enveloped by water have been proven to aid everything from depression to period cramps. Swim a few laps, join a water aerobics class or simply float and doggy paddle – any time spent in the water is time well spent.
Once you’ve headed home following your workout, end the day with an iron-rich meal, a hot bath – or the hot water bottle, organic chocolate bar and Netflix binge that we’ve been tempting you with all along.