Aunt Flow will do anything to sabotage your workout but don't let the old hag win. Follow these 6 easy tips to stay on track.
1. TAKE A TOTAL BODY SURVEY AND PREP YOURSELF
Listen to your body before you decide to hit the gym. Are you feeling tired, bloated, anxious, or a little depressed? Are you having more food cravings than usual? If so, exercising during your period can actually decrease these symptoms.
Working out can help:
- Decrease the pain of cramps by releasing endorphins (the body's natural painkillers), increasing blood flow, and by loosening muscles in your lower abdomen, back, and thighs.
- Rid your body of excess water so you aren’t bloated.
- Improve and stabilize your mood, making you less anxious, angry, or depressed. (source
If you’re bent over in pain, nauseous or your head is throbbing, take the day off. Exercise can intensify severe menstrual symptoms. Instead, hydrate well, avoid food high in salt, plan the following day’s workout (pick a time to go to the gym or find a class you want to take) and go to bed early. If you plan your next workout in advance you’re more likely to commit to it.
2. CHOOSE A LOW INTENSITY MIND-BODY WORKOUT
How about a light jog? Skip the treadmill and take it outside for 20 minutes. The fresh air and outdoor stimulation will do you lots of good.
Go for a swim as long as you're not grossed out by swimming with a tampon. It's definitely one of the best low-impact workouts you can do and it takes the pressure off sensitive zones like your back.
A restorative or slow flow yoga class is my go-to workout. The bending, stretching, deep breathing, and relaxation of yoga practice helps with my headaches and body aches. It's also great for toning arms and legs.
Overall, moderate exercise will get your heart rate up, improve circulation and take your mind off your cramps if not relieve them. It may not be the high intensity workout that you're used to but you'll sweat, burn calories and you won't feel guilty about not working out.
3. MOTIVATE WITH MUSIC
Play your favorite upbeat tunes to combat menstrual lethargy. Listen to a party mix or your cheeziest playlist. Singing along and laughing will raise your spirits and most importantly, energize you. For me, it's Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson and 80’s hits...the minute I hear this music it flips a switch in my brain and inspires me to get off my ass and move. Feel good music can really work wonders.
4. TAKE TYLENOL 8 HOUR
I'm not a doctor but I'll recommend this til the cows come home. I started taking Tylenol 8 Hour while training for my first New York marathon. It helped relieve muscular pain throughout my long training runs. It worked like a charm on my menstrual cramps and headaches, too. Tylenol 8 Hour has a time-released effect that offers continuous relief for up to 8 hours and works best if you take it before you hit the gym. I take 1 tablet a few hours before exercising and that's all I need. If you're loyal to another brand of pain reliever, then stick to what works for you. Just keep in mind that some pain relievers are better than others when it comes to exercise (i.e. most health practitioners caution against the use of Aspirin during athletic performance) so do your research before you pill pop.
5. AVOID CAFFEINE
It can intensify gut stabbing cramps. So before you tell Aunt Flow to go @%!* herself and cancel your gym plans, practice walking by Starbucks without going inside. Think twice about that soda. I know it's hard but try and resist the urge for caffeine until your period is over. Drink non-caffeinated tea instead. Camomile is my herbal of choice.
And last but definitely not least, my favorite tip of them all...
6. DRESS YOUR LADY PARTS FOR COMFORT & STYLE
Seamless and relaxed fit performance undergarments are the least constricting for a bloated belly and swollen chest. Try a boy short or hipster brief instead of a thong. Wear a soft cotton sports bra with minimal padding, contouring and construction. Definitely stay away from underwire styles. Give your boobs a break when you're on the rag! Check out my fitness couture recommendations below.
Phat Buddha's new seamless activewear collection
I'm kind of obsessed with it. The pieces are beautiful and you can wear them as your first layer or your only layer. The lace back seamless sports bra is to die for! New Yorker-Bikram instructor-Phat Buddha founder, Alissa Benishai, designs her activewear line for comfort, ease and sex appeal. This collection will be available for purchase next month at Equinox, Four Seasons & Bikram Studio boutiques.
Comfy performance underwear you'll love:
Lululemon's Lacey Lulu Hotshort
Moving Comfort's Workout Hipster
Athleta's Mesh Lace Seamless Boy Short
Patagonia's Active Hipster
Under Armour's Mesh Boy Short
Comfy sports bras you'll love:
Splits59's Loren Bra
T by Alexander Wang Racer Back Bra Top
Athleta's Mesh Lace Seamless Bra Top
Under Armour's Mesh Bra
NOW GO MOTIVATE!