I have noticed that though my workout remains almost the same throughout the month, my weight or the way I feel aren’t directly related to that. There are days when I feel like sweating it out and eating carrots and cucumbers and then somewhere I want to just drink some hot cocoa and chips and not budge from my place. Hormones affect energy levels, strength and stamina. To get the most out of your exercise, it’s best to listen to them and sync your exercise according to your monthly cycle.
Days 1-7 (Week 1 -day 1 being the first day of the period)
Your estrogen, testosterone & progesterone are at an all time low and the first two pick up very slowly over the 7 days. Unless you don’t feel like working out because of cramps or fatigue, unlike the prevalent myth, there is really no reason why you shouldn’t workout while you are menstruating. Light exercises are the best during this phase because you aren’t really high on endurance and strength owing to the low hormone levels. And you should respect that.
Do light stretching exercises, low impact yoga or light cardio exercises like walking, jogging or low resistance cycling.
Days 7–14 (Week 2- the week after the period)
Your testosterone and estrogen levels begin to rise and reach their peaks by the end of this phase. Testosterone tones your muscle and estrogen builds ligaments and tendons. Estrogen is a hormone that makes us feel energized and gives us a positive mood. Apart from toning and sculpting your body, this is also a great time to build strength.
Go for intense workouts like weight training, resistance training, dancing, elliptical and cross trainers, kick boxing, group activities like aerobics and increase the intensity over the week as the hormones reach their maximum.
Days 15-21 (Week 3)
Your estrogen and testosterone starts to dip and progesterone starts to increase. This can make workout feel very tiring and strenuous.
Since you have built stamina over the 2 weeks, and just lack in strength, slow and steady but long cardio (like a one hour run or jog, or a cycling or elliptical session on medium difficulty) is beneficial.
Days 22-28 (Week 4 – the week before the period)
There is a sudden spike in progesterone, accounting for all the cramps, mood swings, tender breasts, and bloating. Even though you do not think about this, exercise gives you a natural endorphin surge which elevates your mood. Get out all the frustration! Another bonus is that sweating can help you get rid of the body fluids which cause bloating. Since sore breasts and bloating won’t allow anything to do with running, bouncing or moving for that matter, stationary exercises are your best bet.
Go for power yoga or light weight lifting which is neither too gentle nor too hard on you. Yoga will also ease your menstrual flow and lessen your cramps in the coming week.
Instead of planning our workout sessions around family, work and meetings, we should check the calendar for a more important event!
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