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Your Bod

How your period affects your workout

A lot of fitness and health programs out there are designed for men. And while girls can do anything boys can do, we also have to take into account how our bodies are different than theirs. One of the biggest differences is the menstrual cycle. Yes, periods. You know periods can affect your mood and hunger, but did you know that your period can also affect your workouts? 

To understand how your cycle plays into your time at the gym, first we need to understand the cycle itself.

As you may know, a menstrual cycle lasts around 28 days. Maybe a little longer or shorter, but right about around 28 days, starting with the first day of your period. The menstrual cycle can be broken down into phases.

Days 1-13: Day one starts the day your period does and includes your period and a week or so after

Days 14-21: Around day 14 is ovulation. Basically, your body is already getting ready to do it all over again.

Days 21-28: These days are the days leading up to your period. Ah, yes, the good old PMS days. You may feel bloated, tired, hungry or cranky. 

So what does all this mean for your workouts? Let's break it down:

The first phase, days 1-13 are when you will be at your strongest. We know, sometimes when you're on your period and having cramps, you think the last thing you'd be able to do is go to the gym. But you may surprise yourself. During your period and the days after, your hormones are at their lowest, which basically makes you a powerhouse. You may find you're able to run faster, lift more or hold that plank even longer during this phase.

The second phase, days 14-21 is fairly neutral. You may feel a little bloated or tired during ovulation, but it's nothing that will stop you from doing your best at the gym or on the field.

The third phase, days 21-28 or the PMS phase is the phase where you might have the most trouble. Because hormones are high during this week, your body may feel more tired more easily. Why? Basically, during this phase of your cycle, your body has more trouble processing carbs. Carbs are essentially energy, so it makes sense that you would have less if you're not getting it from your food!

Your body temp also rises during this phase of the cycle, so getting hot and sweaty on the treadmill may be more painful than before. Your body won't be able to heal as quickly post-workout, so you may feel sore for longer. Plus, as if it couldn't get any worse, during this phase you may not sleep as well, which definitely makes it harder at the gym.

So does this mean you should just give up on the gym during the third phase?

No way! If you're really not feeling up to working out on any given day, whether you're struggling with being tired or you have cramps, skip it! Rest days can be just as important, and especially vital during the third phase of your cycle.

If you are still feeling super determined to go to the gym during this phase, great. There's no need to skip the gym because of your period or your menstrual cycle (unless you are feeling bad). Just remember to go easy on yourself, and don't get frustrated if your workouts aren't as amazing during this part of your cycle. Remember to be kind to yourself, hydrate well and give your muscles lots of time to recover. 

Do you feel your periods affecting your workouts? Let us know below! 

We want to hear from you! Send us your weirdest body questions here (seriously, we'll answer anything!) and it just might get featured.

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by Linda Horn | 11/11/2017
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