Stabbing cramps, an unrelenting headache, uncomfortable bloating and exhaustion. These delightful PMS symptoms always put you in the mood to exercise, right?
Maybe not, but according to Dr. Jessica Shepherd, working out before your period kicks into high gear may help you enjoy an easier cycle.
“It is important to exercise before the first day of your cycle because by the time cramps occur, regular exercise doesn’t relieve them much,” advises the OB-GYN and Master Class instructor at HelloFlo.
With that in mind, here are the best exercises to do to foil your period’s evil plot to make you suffer.
Among its many benefits, this multifaceted practice reduces stress and encourages relaxation. “Yoga improves mood by releasing endorphins, calming the central nervous system and improving blood flow to the organs, possibly reducing headaches,” says Brad Davidson, fitness expert, nutritionist and author of The Stark Naked 21-Day Metabolic Reset.
Janu Sirsasana is a great pose to begin with--it focuses on massaging the abdominal muscles. From a seated position, extend one leg in front of you, bending the other at the knee. Then bend forward, aiming to place your head on the knee of the extended leg. Reach your hands toward your toes. Switch legs and repeat.
Try Ustrasana, or camel pose, to relieve pelvic pain, lengthen uterine muscles and relieve lower back pain. Start by placing your knees on the floor with your feet extended behind you. Then, draw your upper body toward the ceiling. Carefully reach around to place your hands on your ankles, one at a time, arching into a gentle back bend. Allow your neck and head to fall back on your shoulders. To come out of the pose, place your hands on your lower back one at a time.
Davidson also recommends moderately intense cardiovascular exercise. “This is ideal for reducing PMS symptoms because it stimulates an increase in blood flow that can help reduce headaches, improve mood and decrease stress,” he says. Davidson suggests exercising for , for 30-45 minutes while aiming for a target heart rate of 120-140 beats per minute.
Both Davidson and Dr. Shepherd point out that the endorphins released by moderate exercise may also reduce pain from cramps. Recommended workouts for this lovely time of the month include swimming, water aerobics, jogging and walking.
After your workout? That's the best part. Dr. Shepherd says a nice soak in a hot tub can help loosen uterine and back muscles. That doesn’t sound half bad!