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It’s True! Your Menstrual Cycle Affects Your Fitness Routine
That time of the month, when your period makes an appearance, it’s very likely you’ve experienced one or all of the negative side effects. Symptoms including fatigue, cramps, emotional distress, bloat, headaches, or even muscles aches and joint pain often rear their ugly head. Many of us may think of our period as just the two to seven days we’re shedding blood, but the menstrual cycle is the entire process that takes place from the first day of one period until the first day of the next. Depending on the person, this time frame can vary and be impacted by different methods of birth control.
It’s important to focus on how we can take care of our bodies throughout the different stages of our cycle. Increasing exercise can be the way to go when trying to decrease some of those negative side effects. But it really depends on the type of exercise and movement you’re doing. We’re going to break down the menstrual cycle and how you can best serve your body at each stage to become your most powerful self without letting your cycle hold you back.
Stage 1: Menstruation
Mensuration is when you have your period. This phase is when you’re actually shedding the lining of the uterus. For the average person, this lasts anywhere from two to seven days and is typically not the most enjoyable part of the cycle. This is normally when those negative symptoms are the worst and painful periods can be a real buzzkill. However, it has been found that exercising during this stage can ease some of that pain. Sticking to an intense fitness routine during this phase can be tough because your estrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest. This can cause you to feel less energized and not as motivated to get that intense workout in. Things like fast-paced cardio, HIIT workouts, or lifting heavy weights might not seem so appealing. But that doesn’t mean you can’t stay active! Now is the perfect time for workouts that are low intensity and offer modifications, like barre, swimming or cycling.
Stage 2: Follicular Phase
This phase overlaps slightly with menstruation and starts the same day as your period, but it continues for about a week after your period is finished. Your estrogen levels will start to rise, along with your energy. Overall, your body has a lower level of hormones and is feeling ready to make the most out of a workout. During this time, it’s also easier to build and maintain muscle and The Bar Method is here to help you do just that!
Stage 3: Ovulation
This brief window is about three to five days smack-dab in the middle of your overall cycle. Ovulation is when a mature egg is released from the ovary and travels down the fallopian tube towards the uterus where it will stay for about 24 hours. If not fertilized, it disintegrates. Both energy and endurance levels will be at an all-time high due to the highest levels of estrogen. This is the perfect time to go hard in your fitness routine. Take a couple extra Bar Method classes or go for a long walk or run. If you experience any painful bloating during this phase, adjust your routine accordingly.
Stage 4: Luteal Phase
The last phase of your cycle is the luteal phase. This is the longest stage of your cycle, lasting roughly two weeks. During that first week you may still feel those high energy levels but as week two rolls around, they’ll start to decline. This part of your cycle may cause you to drop some of the intensity of your workouts because your heart will be working slightly harder than normal, and your body temperature will be higher. This doesn’t mean you have to stop working out completely but take it easy on yourself! Incorporate a few extra rest days and drink lots of water.
Knowing when and how your cycle is working will help you really get the most out of every Bar Method class you take. Keep in mind that everyone’s body is different, and we all respond differently to hormone fluctuations, period symptoms, and energy levels. Stay tuned in to how you’re feeling throughout the month and allow yourself rest when needed. A helpful tool can be tracking your period throughout the month using an app. This can help you stay on top of your cycle and better understand what’s going on inside so that on the outside you can really strive for reaching your health and fitness goals.