The Perks of Syncing Your Workout Plan to Your Menstrual Cycle
Working out during periods can be a sluggish affair. Synchronising your workouts with your menstrual cycle can help you get better results from your fitness routine. Read more here.
Many factors affect the period, including your diet, lifestyle, and stress levels. During this time of the month, taking care of the body by working out can be a challenge. However, by understanding the menstrual cycle, one can sync workouts with monthly phases, to have a more effective fitness routine and get the best results.
Thus, synchronising workouts with a monthly cycle is beneficial due to consistent fluctuation in biological changes happening in the body throughout the month. Further, research from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa in 2010, published in Sports Medicine journal, shows variation in metabolic process due to the ovarian hormones that influence exercise performance. The study also suggests the rise in energy level after an increased oestrogen concentration in the body after a workout.
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What is menstrual cycle syncing?
Menstrual syncing refers to being aware of hormonal changes in the body during periods and adapting to a workout and diet plan accordingly. It is a pre-plan female optimised exercise routine executed by taking advantage of fluctuating hormones, mood swings, and peak metabolism. An aligning diet with exercise provides the necessary support and rejuvenates the body at different phases of the monthly cycle.
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Is working out during periods recommended?
Yes, working out during your periods may be one way to ease its symptoms. Exercises even help with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It can result in food cravings, tender breasts, fatigue, and withdrawal. A survey by the National Institute of Health, published in the 2016 journal International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, shows 80 percent of females experience PMS such as irritability, and physical symptoms, such as headaches and back pain.
A 2016 study from Konyang University in Korea, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, stated that practicing yoga for an hour once a week, was effective in reducing period cramps and stress in women. Incorporating stretches and yoga asanas during the menstrual cycle can be beneficial as it assists in reducing stress and improving blood flow. With a more specific approach, one can have a healthy lifestyle and schedule workouts according to phases.
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What type of workouts are ideal during the menstrual cycle?
1. Menstrual phase 1-6 days: These are the initial days of the start of the period or bleeding (in absence of implantation), where female reproductive hormones are at their lowest. Some may feel less energetic. This phase is all about relaxing and rejuvenating. Include gentle exercises like
- Foam rolling
- Light walking
2. Follicular phase 7-12 days: It represents the end of the period and the start of the next cycle. There will be a gradual rise in follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which urges ovaries to prepare eggs. Thus, increase in oestrogen level, which means a boost in energy, and one can choose intense workouts like
- Ashtanga Yoga
3. Ovulation phase 13-15 days: Now, FSH urges the egg to be matured and ready to release. High oestrogen causes the uterine lining to thicken for implantation, and women experience peak energy. Taking benefit of this, one can include a high-intensity workout combined with rests such as
- HIIT training
- Power yoga (Hatha and Vinyasa yoga)
4. Luteal phase (17-28 days): In the luteal phase, energy slowly increases at first and dips again if fertilisation has not taken place. As your body is heading towards the menstrual phase, you might feel moody due to low energy levels. The workout you choose should be moderate to light.
- HIIT training
Tips: When starting menstrual syncing, try and recognise the body phase (mood and energy level) you are at, this will help in picking the ideal workout.
If you are on birth control pills, consult a fitness coach for the workout schedule as fluctuations may or may not vary as usual.