Whether you suffer wince-inducing cramps every month or you're one of the smug ones that makes it through scot-free, you'll likely be well aware of how different working out can feel when you're in the middle of your period. Some report low energy levels during their menstrual cycle, which can lead to skipping exercise altogether, though this mostly occurs around two weeks before your period, when oestrogen levels drop off quickly after ovulation, leaving you feeling sluggish, and again a week before your period, when both your oestrogen and progesterone levels dip some more.
So how can we best navigate the hormone fluctuations that arrive with our period when it comes to working out? Some might deem these sorts of considerations excessively granular, but for performance coach, personal trainer to the stars, nutritionist and founder of London's luxe fitness destination Twenty Two Training, Dalton Wong, they represent a key part of his fitness strategy - Attention To Detail training (ATD). ATD training offers a thought-through alternative to the hard-and-fast approach to training. Twenty Two clients are offered meticulously planned, bespoke sessions that strategically tackle muscle groups, address strength and fitness goals and put longterm health, form and condition first. 'Working smarter rather than harder is the key to getting stronger,' says Wong, 'it's the commitment to finer details that make us progress and succeed.'
What Is The Best Way To Work Out During Your Period?
Grazia caught up with Twenty Two trainer Conor McNevin and talked through the essential need-to-know details surrounding working out during your period.
1. Lessen The Impact
'Recent studies have shown that, during your period, joints are less robust - though they do retain their general strength,' says McNevin, 'meaning your risk of a joint injury increases. Avoid jumping, hopping and bounding and stick to lower impact exercises like weighted squats rather than squat jumps.'
2. Don't Skip Your Sessions
'This might sound counterintuitive to some,' says McNevin, 'but hear me out. Research shows that exercising correctly during your period can help to alleviate some of the symptoms you normally associate with that time of the month, from cramps and pains to mood swings and bloating, and even fatigue. If you need to lower the intensity of your sessions then go for it! Consider exercise like swimming, walking or yoga.'
3. Stay Cool
'Many experience higher body temperatures and even hot flushes when being active during their period,' notes McNevin. 'If this applies to, keep that in mind when deciding where to work out. If your gym feels particularly stuffy, consider working out outside instead, and aim to exercise in the morning or evening when temperatures are at their lowest. The aim is the make exercising as enjoyable a process as possible.'
4. Avoid Caffeine
'Caffeine stimulates your sympathetic nervous system, which controls your core body temperature,' says McNevin, 'again, we're all about keeping your body as cool as possible during this time of the month, caffeine can make you feel hotter.'
5. Stay Hydrated
'This is always a must, but it's particularly vital during your period,' says McNevin, 'you're losing bodily fluids through bleeding and sweating more than normal, which can catalyse dehydration and lead to side-effects like headaches and migraines, more severe cramping and more acute fatigue. Research shows that those who drink eight glasses of water a day, versus those who only drink when they're thirsty, experience less severe menstrual cramps during the first three days of their period. Not sure how much water you should be drinking? Use this hydration calculator to find out.'