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What types of exercise are best across my cycle and why? 

If you’re someone with a period, you might have heard a lot of different information about when to exercise and what types of exercises are best across your cycle. 

Feeling a bit confused? So are most people. Let’s simplify it!

Basically, studies have found that whilst changing hormone levels across your cycle can affect your energy levels and exercise performance, there’s nothing to say don’t exercise. Also, keeping physically active can help to reduce symptoms of PMS.

Here’s some ideas to help you get the most out of your workouts and nurture your body across your cycle.

Week 1 - Your period (menstruation)

During your period, your body is working to shed the lining grown in your uterus over the previous month. 

Your two main sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone are at their lowest levels, and along with daily bleeding, this time can leave you feeling pretty low on energy. Sound familiar? 

If you love exercising, the good news is it’s okay to keep training while you have your period. With this being said, it’s also recommended that you listen to your body and adjust how much activity you do by how much energy you have. If you’re low on energy or experiencing cramps, self care might look like try swapping a HIIT work out for a walk, or intense training for some gentle yoga. 

If you have cramps then some people also find that light exercise is also a way to help to ease PMS symptoms. 

Top tip:

Keep your workouts gentle and adjust based on your energy levels. If your body is telling you to rest, don’t be afraid to listen.

Week 2 - Your follicular phase (before the release of an egg)

Your follicular phase begins on the first day of your cycle and continues until ovulation. This is the time when your body starts to make Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) to develop a follicle (fluid-filled sac containing an egg). 

Estrogen levels also start to rise, and with them your energy! With this increasing energy, it’s a great time to up the workouts a little.  

Top tip:

As your energy levels rise, you may feel like increasing the intensity of your workouts - depending on what you enjoy, you might do some HIIT (intense, playful and quick) or strength-based training.

Week 3 - Ovulation (egg release)

It’s your time to shine! Your estrogen levels are high and with them, your energy might be up and you may feel more confident and ready to take on that next challenge.

Top tip:

If you love a high energy workout, now is a great time for strength training and higher-intensity cardio like Barry’s Boot Camp or a new personal best for your running. Some folks have found that their stamina increases up to twice as much during this time. 

Week 4 - Your luteal phase (after the release of an egg)

This final phase before your next period can be a mixed bag. Initially, you’ll still have higher energy levels, which can drop down low as you get closer to your period. A drop in estrogen and progesterone levels towards the start of your period can leave you feeling tired. 

Top tip:

Check in with your body, are you daydreaming about your bed? Do your best to balance your workouts around your energy. This can be a good time to do some flow-style yoga or swimming. 

To help find your perfect balance of exercise across your cycle, keep notes in your period tracker - some symptoms to log and consider are:

  • When do I have the most energy? 
  • When do I feel fatigued/lethargic? 
  • What types of exercise work well for you in each week of your cycle? 

Did you find this article helpful? 

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