Menstruation and Exercise

Menstruation and Exercise

This girl can!

Menstruation and Exercise


We’ve all been there. Feeling motivated. Booked into a Pilates class with your friend. Maybe you’ve been attending PT with a trainer for the last couple of your weeks. Or finally starting taking swimming lessons. And then….. blood. Your period starts. Motivation? Gone. Sometime your uterus can feel like a hurdle to overcome, restricting you in your daily life. But it doesn’t really have to be that way. Let’s look into how you can get along better with your period. Contrary to what many believe, physical activity during your period can help care for your body.

Can I? Yes, you can!

Many women do not exercise during their menstrual period due to a variety of concerns.

Our body’s condition declines and there can be symptoms of depression and anxiety as luteinizing hormones are actively released a week before menstruation. This physiological phenomenon induces stress which affects our daily life and makes us hesitant about doing vigorous activities and exercise. We sometimes stop exercising because we are anxious about bleeding too much or in case it becomes too strenuous on our body.

But there are zero reasons for you to stop exercising just because you started your period. Most research examining the relationship between menstruation and exercise reported that exercising during your period can help relieve menstrual stress and pain.

Exercise can be a great friend to your period as long as it is not too demanding and it's appropriate to your body’s condition.

The Effects of Exercising during Menstruation

‍🙆‍♀️ Relieves PMS

Exercising during menstruation can relieve menstrual pain, abdominal bloating, backaches, and headaches. It can also alleviate fatigue, frustration, depression, and mood swings during menstruation.

‍🙆‍♀️ Increases endorphins

Exercise accelerates the release of endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals that trigger joy and happiness and are the natural painkillers in our bodies. Releasing endorphins by exercising can help fight against the physical and mental symptoms that can occur during menstruation as they relieve pain and reduce anxiety.

‍🙆‍♀️ Feeling good

Exercising during menstruation can enhance blood circulation and help with feeling down and sad. Exercise can bring positive effects in reducing mental stress. When you feel better, you will gain the energy to overcome the remaining days of your period.

Recommended & not recommended exercises

❤️ Recommended: Walking and aerobic exercise

Take walks or do short and low-effort aerobic exercise. Walking and aerobic exercise improves the functions of vascular tissues by actively supplying oxygen to the lungs and heart. Taking a stroll is sufficient.

❤️ Recommended: Yoga and Pilates

Exercise such as yoga and Pilates that are effective in physical relaxation can reduce cramps and muscular pain and relax the exhausted body. Gentle activities are best in the first few days of menstruation, as there is heavier bleeding which makes strenuous activity uncomfortable. If taking a course with an instructor, tell them your current condition and get recommendations.

❤️ Recommended: Your usual workout

If you have your own workout routine then just reduce the intensity and duration to avoid being exhausted. The best exercise is the one that you want to do and know how to do. These exercises are easy to adjust according to your body's condition during menstruation.

Don’t forget to observe your body’s condition and adjust activities accordingly. If you’re not feeling as well as usual, make sure to get plenty of rest.

🤍 Not recommended: Poses in which the body is upside down

Do not do headstand poses or inverted poses in yoga. These poses could lead to endometriosis as the blood can flow backward.

🤍 Not recommended: CrossFit and high-intensity exercise

It’s not the best time to try a new exercise or try to set a new record. It’s time to lower the intensity of your exercise as well as the amount. Let’s hold off on doing exercises that require technique or precise training.

🤍 Not recommended: Long hours of exercise without breaks

Long hours of exercise could rather be harmful. There are reports of possible exercise-induced inflammation when continuing moderate-intensity exercise for 60 minutes during menstruation.

🤍 Not recommended: Activities with a high risk of injury

There is still no scientific evidence on the negative effects of exercise that loads weight on the knees, hip joints, and lumbar joints such as weight training, squats, or running. However, hormonal levels fluctuate during your period which weakens the muscles and ligaments and doing activities may feel uncomfortable. It’s best to be careful since the risk of injury can increase.

Your body may feel heavier and lacking in energy during your period. But this does not necessarily mean you should stop exercising. Getting plenty of rest is best if you want it, but there’s no reason to stop if you want to be active. Examine your body and set your own standard.

But don’t Overdo it.

Check out some advice on exercising during your period and hanging in there!

TIP: Use menstrual products appropriate to your activity

Running while using menstrual pads may be uncomfortable but getting into a pool can be downright wrong. Choose a menstrual product that’s appropriate to the type of exercise you're doing. Tampons or a menstrual cup are great for underwater activities. Make sure to check the product you're using before and after exercise and replace the tampon afterwards.

TIP: Don’t overthink

If you want to exercise, go ahead but if you want to take a rest, rest. Remember that it’s okay to stop whenever you're feeling uncomfortable. Create your own rhythm and devote yourself to it. But don't withdraw from exercising because of a vague uneasiness. Also don’t overwork yourself because of others’ opinions and views.

TIP: Work with an expert

It’s great to work out with an instructor or trainer with whom you can share the condition of your body. Discuss details of how much pain you're in currently and your menstrual flow to get recommendations on the best activities for you. It could be helpful in managing the symptoms and avoiding injuries.

+ Let’s think

Since when did we feel creeping anxiety and fear about exercising during menstruation? It could be because we didn't receive proper physical education when we first started menstruating and adjusting to our changing bodies. Girls had to miss PE class when on their period and this continues into adulthood, so associating exercise with menstruation becomes difficult.

A report released by the Korean Institute for Health and Social Affairs in 2019 analyzed the lowered desire and interest in physical activities of young women compared to their childhood and points out that gender discrimination in school education was the reason. Female students from elementary school to university who participated in the survey responded that exercises in PE classes are limited and passive, and most are centered on male students. The report concluded that the decrease in frequency and level of physical activity in girls who used to be active and enjoy exercising is a result of only getting limited information and options of exercises and sports in school education in their adolescence.
This girl can! The “This Girl Can” campaign that started in the UK is a well-known movement that encourages physical activity in young women. Through the campaign’s slogan, “No one gets to choose how you exercise other than you. Your body, your call. And whatever that looks like, we think it’s worth celebrating,” we know what message is needed for those distancing themselves from exercise due to others’ opinions and views.

Let’s shake off any misconceptions and bad impressions about menstruation and exercise that we unconsciously accepted as teenagers, and listen to the voices of our bodies.


  • Exercise during menstruation is not forbidden.
  • If you want to take a rest, take a rest. If you want to be active, be active.
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