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Tracking your menstrual cycle closely has many benefits and means you get to understand yourself and your emotions on a deeper level. But it also means you can adapt your nutrition (read our article on eating for your menstrual cycle here) and your exercise for each stage of your menstrual cycle to feel better than ever.

We’ve also got the low-down on eating for your menstrual cycle.

Exercise For Each Stage Of Your Cycle: Menstruation

During the first part of your cycle which starts with your period, your hormones are at their lowest level. This phase of your cycle lasts 3 to 7 days and is a time during which you need to be particularly kind to yourself. You might have low energy during this time, be crampy, emotional and anxious. We recommend very slow, low intensity exercise during this phase:

  • Walking: try hitting 10k steps if you can, go on a walk with someone, listen to music or a podcast is a great way to motivate yourself to walk more. And if the weather doesn’t exactly lend itself to a nice walk, why not use the treadmill at the gym whilst watching your favourite show
  • Yoga: some types of yoga are gentler then others so we do not recommend intense yoga during this stage or any inverted poses or hot yoga. Instead, opt for gentle yoga such as Yin or Kripalu yoga. You can either attend classes or follow an online class from the comfort of your home
  • Meditation: although not considered as a form of exercise as such, in a way meditation is exercise for the mind. It’s crucial during this phase of your cycle to reduce anxiety or negative emotions that may occur. Meditation is a great way to calm the nerves and balance the mind. We love the Calm app to meditate.
woman-doing-yoga-exercise-for-each-stage-of-your-menstrual-cycle

Exercise for Each Stage of Your Cycle: Follicular

The phase following the end of your period is also known as the follicular phase of your cycle. During this time, your hormones levels increase and get ready to release an egg. This is thanks to a hormone called follicule-stimulating hormone (aka FSH). This phase generally lasts 14 to 21 days during which your energy levels will slowly increase up until ovulation. When it comes to exercise for each stage of your menstrual cycle, the follicular phase is a great time to challenge your body, include more cardio, HIIT training and strength training:

  • Boxing: a great way to work legs, arms, core and cardio. Boxing can sound intimidating but many classes are taught around the concept of boxing without actually physically fighting anyone (although if you feel like throwing a few punches, an actual boxing class in incredibly fun too!).
  • Swimming: a great form of exercise and one of the healthiest for your joints! If you sometimes struggle with back issues, swimming is a great form of exercise which is incredibly gentle on the body and can be adapted to all levels. Do the breast stroke for an easier practice or use freestyle, backstroke or even butterfly stroke to really challenge yourself
  • Strength training: weight lifting is not just for men and will not make you look like the hulk! This is a misconception that many people still buy into. Building muscle mass by safely building up on your strength training is a great way to exercise during this phase of your cycle
woman-exercising-boxing-excersice-for-your-menstrual-cycle

Exercise for Each Stage of Your Cycle: Ovulation

This phase of your cycle only lasts 2-4 days each month and is marked by the release of an egg. Similar to the follicular phase, this is a time during which your energy levels will peak. Mood wise, you might notice feeling particularly positive, confident and content during this phase. It’s a great time to carry on with the forms of exercise you were doing during your follicular phase. Try mixing it up a little with different types of cardio and strength training:

  • Running: not everybody is a fan but running is a great way to boost your cardio. If you’re not into long distance, try doing interval training where you oscillate between short distance sprints for 60 seconds and rest for 60 seconds. If your back or knees are not up for the impact of running, this can be adapted to swimming. One length of the pool at a high-intensity and another 60 seconds resting or swimming using breast stroke
  • Circuit training: combination of 6 to 12 exercises with short rest in between each exercise and repeated a set number of times. It keeps the heart rate up and the variety in exercise means you can target different muscle groups and not get bored
woman-running-stairs-exercise-for-each-stage-of-your-menstrual-cycle

Exercise for Each Stage of Your Cycle: Luteal Phase

The luteal phase is marked by the end of ovulation and finishes right until your period starts. It usually lasts 12 to 14 days during which your progesterone levels will slowly increase and dip before your period. At the beginning of your luteal phase, you will have some energy left from your follicular/ovulation phase. But this will slowly fall as you get closer to your period. Therefore when it comes to exercise for each stage of your menstrual cycle, it’s important during this phase to really listen to your body. Split this phase in two (first half of the luteal phase for the first week after ovulation and second half for the week before your period). We recommend reserving high intensity cardio for your follicular and ovulation phase.

Luteal phase first 7 days:

  • Pilates or yoga
  • Rock climbing
  • Low intensity cardio: fast walks, cycling, swimming
woman-swimming-pool

Luteal phase last 7 days:

  • Walking
  • Gentle forms of yoga
  • Swimming

Author

  • Violette Kraemer

    Violette is the co-founder of The Women’s Journal and Marketing Director with a penchant for editorial work particularly in Health & Wellness, Beauty and Fashion. She has nearly 10 years of Marketing & PR experience in industries varying from arts to fashion, events, weddings and beauty.

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