Exercise According to Your Cycle
Have you noticed how your energy and motivation to exercise often fluctuate during your monthly cycle? No matter how much you want to exercise, the pull of chocolate and sofa proves irresistible at times?
Well, don’t think you’re being lazy or ‘bad’ at exercise. Your hormones have a lot to answer for.
And the good news? Getting great benefits from exercise is all about knowing when and how to do it.
What it looks like:
So here are some guidelines on the kind of exercise you can do depending on which stage of your cycle you are in:
- Day one to 5 of menstruation: you may feel naturally tired and more prone to chocolate cravings, a sign that you may need more magnesium and restorative gentle exercise. Try yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Pilates, walking, swimming.
- Day 5 to ovulation: estrogen levels rise, giving you more energy and power to carry out higher intensity exercises like Hiit, kickboxing, strength training. Hold off exercising if you still feel low energy the first week, and remember that higher estrogen can over-relax ligaments and cause injury so watch the high-impact exercise.
- Ovulation time: testosterone increases and will give you more strength and energy so use it wisely.
- The last two weeks following ovulation: You may start feeling energy reducing again and the last few days prior to your period may bring in more cravings, due to the lower estrogen levels impacting your blood sugar and insulin resistance. So here, reduce your intensity of exercise or you may feel exhausted quickly. Focus on more endurance but lower intensity exercise again (walking, yoga, pilates etc). Your metabolic rate during this period is also higher, so eating more protein to curb cravings is a good idea.
Doing intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting works best these last two weeks before your period, to help with blood sugar fluctuations and cravings.
Lower estrogen levels mean strength-training with alternate weeks of moderate and heavier weights with fewer repetitions will be most beneficial, with more rest and recovery than needed pre-menopausal.
There is a fine line between going beyond the levels of ‘normal’ daily activity and going too far beyond what your body can handle at specific times. So listen to your body, do a check of how you feel physically, emotionally, mentally. And weigh out whether pushing yourself a little to exercise will cause more good or exhaust you.
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