Our Best Tips For Staying Active When You're On Your Period (Don't Let Cramps Keep You Down)

Getting to the gym, not to mention committing to an entire workout, is hard enough as it is. And then, you get your period. Being on your period can make working out uncomfortable at best, and futile at worst. But when you're intent on being consistent to reach your goals, staying physically active while you're on your period can be a reality we have to push through. First, know that it is safe to work out on your period. Second, understand how the phases of your cycle might impact your energy levels. For example, in the days leading up to your period, you might feel more tired than usual, as your hormone levels begin to drop, eventually reaching their lowest point on the first day of your period. From there, as your hormone levels rise again, your energy might do the same. According to the Office On Women's Health, staying active in the days leading up to your period might lax the severity of your period symptoms. But when you do have period symptoms that might make lifting heavy weights or operating the gym's machines dangerous, such as serious cramps or a bad headache, you don't have to compromise your workout at the mercy of your period. We've got a couple of tips for you.

Switch up your normal routine

Remember that, when you're on your period, do not feel you need to transform into those women in the tampon commercials, cartwheeling through a field of sunflowers, or winning the World Cup (although, props to them, really). Instead, our first tip is to switch up your normal routine for another that might better accommodate your comfort levels. Low-impact workouts, which place less strain on your heart and joints, can be great options for a modified workout. When your period is at its worst, probably on the first and second days, opt for the lowest-impact workouts here — no need for hardcore running. Going for a long walk, whether around your neighborhood or on the treadmill, is a fantastic way to keep your cardio on track and perhaps even relieve some of the symptoms of your period, and pumping up those endorphins might make actually make you feel more at ease. Riding a bike — a stationary one works just as well — is another cardio alternative that will get you moving while your bottom stays planted. What more could you ask for? Choosing a low-impact workout when you're on your period might even open some new insight into how your body feels and responds to new activities.

Remember the benefits for your mental health

Having your period does not just impact your physical well-being, but also your mental well-being. A 2022 paper by the Harvard Review of Psychiatry shows that some women may feel irritable or experience lower self-esteem because of the physical discomfort of their periods. However, physical activity has been shown time and time again to significantly improve mental health. This is why our second tip is to remember the benefits of staying active during your period to maintain mental balance. 

Another meaningful facet of doing low-impact workouts while on the worst days of your period, is that you can spend some time indulging in your other interests, rather than focusing on maintaining perfect form. For example, perhaps you've found a podcast that you have not had time to catch up on; now would be a perfect time to do so. Perhaps you could even listen to positive affirmations while you exercise, or jot down new ideas for a creative project (assuming it's safe to do so). Here, both your body and mind are being given time to exercise, which is beautiful self-care, even when you're not feeling at peak performance. Do not feel you need to push your body past its limits while on your period. Give yourself permission to listen to how you feel and do what's best for you, even if that means just some gentle stretching.