We often have very fixed ideas of how exercise will fit into our weekly routines; time is precious.
But have you ever noticed that at certain times of the month, you can find yourself really struggling to perform at your usual level; you may feel sluggish at your usual run or just feel too hot and bothered to make it to a spin class.
Your oestrogen levels fluctuate during your menstrual cycle and will help determine how well you can perform in the gym and at various physical activities.
In the first two weeks of your cycle (day one being the first day of your period), your oestrogen levels will be lower and at this time your body will be more resilient, you will have more stamina and you may find you can push yourself a little harder.
This is a great time to work on heavier workouts, more intense classes, lifting heavier weights, or pushing yourself a little more toward your goals.
Consider challenging yourself with high-intensity interval training (HIIT), plyometrics, sprint training, spin classes, Body-Pump or Combat classes, more challenging walks or increasing your resistance training intensities.
In the 5-7 days before your next period is due, when your oestrogen level starts to peak, your body temperature baseline naturally increases, so you may find yourself more sensitive to heat, finding a hot exercise environment less comfortable.
Options such as exercising outdoors, swimming, or steady-state cardiovascular training on a cross-trainer or stationary bike may be preferable to hot yoga or a crowded exercise studio.
You may feel a little more tired, as sleep is often disturbed during this time, so you may naturally seek slightly lower-intensity exercises, such as swimming, cycling, pilates, yoga or walking.
Working out, whatever physical activity you choose, is a win for your physical and emotional health throughout the different phases of your cycle.
It can help ease symptoms of pre-menstrual tension (PMT) and can help stabilise mood swings and generate a release of ‘happy hormones’ such as dopamine and serotonin, alongside the physical benefits of helping maintain a healthy gut, improving cardiovascular health and reducing risks of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and numerous forms of cancer.
By listening to your body and being respectful of your female hormones as they shift through the month, you can enjoy the maximal fitness benefits of your exercise program.
By varying your exercise plans over the course of the month, as you tailor your training around your natural cycle changes, you can fully enjoy the experience and feel truly connected to your body.
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