One common myth that women fall prey to is that they should not exercise during their menstrual cycle. Like many other myths this one is completely baseless as well. There are many myths around the menstrual cycle but this one is the biggest one. For some it is a genuine belief that has been instilled through years of conditioning from parents and grandparents. For others it is an excuse to get out of exercise!
Women are told by their fitness trainers, elders in the home and women peers that you shouldn’t work out during your periods. The reasons cited vary from increased pain to “bad for health” to prone for injuries and many more. There are sports players who compete while on their period and win! They are not in a position to change their competition dates neither do they train any less leading up to the competition. While this example sounds extreme, it applies to all women. Rather than saying that its okay to exercise while on your period, I would say that it is actually helpful to continue to exercise during that time.
There have been studies that show that women who regularly exercise even during their cycles have more comfortable periods. It regulates the hormone system such that the cycles are less pain, there is less bloating and the flow is not too heavy. When you sweat, water flushes out from the body relieving you of belly bloatedness. Exercise also releases mood-boosting endorphins which in general makes you less attentive to your discomfort. A recent study has revealed a correlation between higher levels of fitness and fewer PMS symptoms. It may actually be a great time to work out. During your period, your estrogen and progesterone levels drop due to which you can access carbohydrate/glycogen easily leading to a faster breakdown of fat.
Having said this, women must be sensitive to their bodies and learn to listen to signs. If working out at your usual pace seems to leave you exhausted, slow down but don’t stop. Other women may experience more abdominal discomfort specific to some exercises. In this case modify your exercises or temporarily stop those particular ones but continue to work out. If you are still not feeling up to it, just go for a light stroll and this may make you feel better. Taking a day or two off is completely alright too. What’s not okay is to believe that you must NOT exercise during your period!