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adidas
adidas / August 2021
Clara Virieux

What You Need to Know About Working Out on Your Period

Disclaimer: The aim of this lesson is to help you learn more about how to look after yourself and become more in tune with your body. It is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be viewed as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. If you believe you may be experiencing a medical condition or emergency, you should consult with a physician or other qualified medical professional promptly.


“Should I really be working out when on my period?” is a question you’ve probably asked yourself at least once. From aching cramps to lower back pain to overall fatigue, menstrual cycles can leave your body feeling out of sorts, and not at all conducive to working out.


Can I Exercise During My Period?

Contrary to popular belief, exercising while on your period can be beneficial to alleviating the symptoms you’re experiencing, and for your mental and physical health. According to Dr. Georgie Bruinvels, Director, Sports Science and Female Athlete Lead at Orreco and elite endurance athlete, “Your cycle shouldn’t hold you back — you just need to learn how to work with your body.”

Athlete climbing with period proof tights


Debunking Common Period Myths

Tailoring your routine to your cycle is key. When asked how one can best perform while on their period, Dr. Georgie mentions that “eating smartly, sleeping well and warming up properly, alongside learning more about your individual cycle can help you be at your best.”

If you’ve ever scoured the web for answers to some of your most pressing period-related questions, you might have come across quite a few “golden rules” that tend to feel more like myths rather than universal truths. One of the most common misconceptions is that you can’t work out when on your period or that you should avoid doing certain exercises. Dr. Georgie’s main takeaway on the topic is that if you proactively work with and learn about your menstrual cycle, it shouldn’t hold you back. Everyone is unique, and no experience is applicable to all but tracking and learning about your cycle is essential. “Our cycle provides us with an inner gage of how our body is doing; if cycles change abruptly, that can be a sign that something is amiss.” A top tip would be to never underestimate the impact stress can have, “It can affect the menstrual cycle in different ways. If you are concerned about erratic, painful, and irregular cycles, you should seek medical advice.”

Another frequently asked question is how to control cravings throughout one’s cycle. According to Dr. Georgie,

Research shows that the way food is metabolized can vary depending on what phase of your cycle you’re in. This means that your body may need a slightly different balance of macronutrients (e.g. carbohydrates, fats and proteins)

One’s resting metabolic rate (RMR) also tends to be higher in the week or so before their period. This part of one’s cycle is known as the luteal phase, which is the time between one’s ovulation and their next menstrual period. Being aware of how to best fuel yourself around your cycle can really help you feel better and embrace your day with energy.

Then there’s the fear of leaking. The only way to prevent overflow is to be properly equipped. In addition to your preferred sanitary products, double down and invest in leak-proof workout gear such as the adidas TechFit Period Proof Tights. Using new adidas Flow Shield technology, the tights have a set of absorbent layers and a membrane that help protect against leaks, giving athletes added confidence whilst training through their period​.

Athlete kickboxing with period proof tights


Benefits of Exercise During Your Period

During that time of the month, motivation may be at an all-time low. According to Dr. Georgie this is due to menstruators’ altered hormonal profile at this time. “The lack of energy can also be exacerbated by the reduction in serotonin and dopamine, the hormones associated with happiness and feeling more outgoing, alongside the impact of other symptoms such as disruption of sleep.” In this case, the best cure is to actually try to get moving. Below, a list of various benefits that come from working out while on your period:

  • Even More Endorphins: The sudden decrease in reproductive hormones can hinder the release of other feel-good chemicals. Your body and mind are more likely to feel tired, and if you are prone to pre-menstrual and during-menstruation symptoms, your serotonin levels will have likely dropped alongside your reproductive hormones. How does one combat that? By loading up on endorphins. According to Dr. Georgie, "Exercising helps increase endorphins, which in turn helps with overall wellness."
  • Game Without Pain: When asked if working out while on your period could impact one’s pain levels, here is Dr. Georgie's unequivocal response: “Exercise is a really great way to reduce menstrual symptoms and make you feel better both mentally and physically.” She adds that it is “normal to get symptoms, feel more emotional and a bit more tired at certain times, but our research has shown that exercise can help reduce symptoms such as cramping and make you feel much better.”
  • Beat the Bloat: A swollen lower abdomen prior to or during your menstrual cycle is a common side effect of periods, and one of the best ways to reduce it is to get your body moving. Staying hydrated is also recommended — before, during and after any physical activity. Shannon Ehrhardt, Performance Dietician Manager at EXOS, explains that active individuals should pay attention to hydration and fluid balance, “Increasing your water intake and making sure you are getting enough electrolytes, especially sodium, is always important, but even more so when menstruating.”

Athlete playing volleyball with period proof tights


Which Exercise is Right for Me During My Period?

It’s important to keep in mind that your body works overtime when on your period. For Tiffany Grimm, Director of Recovery at EXOS, the most important thing one should do is listen to their body, “Pushing yourself to intensity during this ‘releasing’ phase of your menstrual cycle can sometimes be counterintuitive to your body’s needs to slow down.” Better safe than sorry, so here’s a shortlist of period-friendly workouts, levelling upwards in intensity:

  • Stretching: Often overlooked as a viable practice, it is one of the most beneficial things you can do, especially if you haven’t been particularly active due to menstrual cramps. According to Tiffany, simple muscle-lengthening movements can help extend some of the tension causing you pain by “shifting any unwarranted discomfort or lethargy.” She adds that “stretching brings oxygen to our muscles and awakens some key neurochemicals, helping us feel better overall.”
  • Yoga: Depending on your energy levels, you can choose an intense flow or opt for a slower sequence. From Vinyasa to Hatha to Restorative, figure out what works best for you. When asked to share some of the key benefits of doing yoga while on your period, Tiffany referenced breath control. “Yoga utilizes the mindful incorporation of breathing, which has the power to shift your mental and physical states in a very short amount of time. It can be your best ally in shifting your mood, alleviating back discomfort, and revitalizing your energy.”
  • Running: Pounding the pavement on your period can feel like a daunting task. Tiffany recommends paying attention to your body’s signals. “If you start out running and your legs feel like lead, switch to a brisk walk or a hike. If you have great energy, start out with a trot and let your speed build.”
  • Swimming: Floating in water can make you feel weightless, and that happens to be one of the activity’s main benefits when it comes to alleviating menstrual cramps. When preparing to head into the water, Tiffany recommends “following your body’s signals. Whether that means freestyle swimming or underwater aerobics, the key is to have fun and let your body move how it wants to.”

Stay in Play - PE(riod) Lesson Plan

With statistics showing that 1 in 4 girls drop out of sport during adolescence, citing fear of period leakage as a key reason, adidas set out to tackle one of the greatest taboos in sport.

In partnership with Dr. Georgie Bruinvels of Orreco who has a wealth of experience working with athletes and professional teams, EXOS human performance company and experienced PE teachers, adidas has crafted a practical lesson plan to use in schools, helping teens better understand how to navigate their cycle. The plans cover the different stages of the menstrual cycle, how you can manage symptoms and how you can stay in play with the right exercise and nutrition.


Preview_PE_lesson-plan

Download the PE(riod) lesson plan here


What to Wear When Working Out on Your Period

Now that you’re all caught up on the dos and don’ts of exercising while menstruating, explore our selection of workout gear to find your perfect match for that time of the month.

adidas / August 2021
Clara Virieux
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