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How to make your Menstrual Cycle work for you

Ladies, they come along each month for years, but how much do you really understand about your own menstrual cycle and what can you do to support your own body through it?


I'm going to explain about the different phases your body goes through and what you should be doing at each to get the most out of your exercise and workouts.


When we’re young and finding out about our bodies very little is explained that would be useful once we're an adult.

 

I don’t know about you, but I remember in Year 7 reading a book about the Female Reproductive System and that pretty much being the bulk of my sex education in school – we didn’t even have Google to check if we wanted to know anything else!

 

I’m not about to go into details on the birds and the bees and all of our bits pieces down there, but the menstrual cycle, well that has such a staggering effect on our bodies for so many years and it’s what? A passing sentence in a text book that you’re going to have periods roughly every month from when you’re about 12 until when you’re in your 50s. That at some point between the age of 12 and 50 you might get pregnant and have a few months without a period. Then they start again and they stop when you’re really old! (I’m well aware that reaching the age of Menopause does not mean you are old, but when I was 12 I was not aware of this!)


Whilst progress may have been made in recent years, I don’t imagine it arms girls with information to want to or help support their own bodies in all of the years ahead. Nor do I suppose it's at the age when they're likely to be engaged on even needing to - there are other priorities as a teen!


What's going on in my body?


During our menstrual cycles the fluctuations in hormones affect our emotional status, appetite, thought processes and more. You may feel great, super-happy and confident mid-cycle, but just before you’re due on you might find yourself feeling a little low, maybe a bit anxious even. All perfectly normal!

 

By understanding what is going on in your own body, you can make changes to ease symptoms, to lessen disruption, prevent burnout and keep yourself mindful throughout each month.

 

The Menstrual Cycle is approximately a 4 week cycle of hormones coming and going throughout your body.

Phase

Period in Cycle

Hormonal Goings-on

Menstrual

Day 1-5

Oestrogen & Progesterone Low

Follicular

Day 6-14

Oestrogen & Progesterone are on the increase

Ovulatory

Day 15-17

Oestrogen Peaks. Testosterone & Progesterone are in the rise

Luteal

Day 18-28

Oestrogen & Progesterone levels are high

 

Your energy and moods fluctuate just like these hormones which can affect how your body approaches exercise. Learning what workouts will suit you best at various stages of the cycle mean you can ensure that your body is up to some sort of movement at any time in the cycle and give yourself an indication on when to really push and when it might actually best to take it easier.



Menstrual Phase


Light cardio, walking, shorter bouts of aerobic activity are probably best when you’re on your period. Back off the intensity of workouts if you’re feeling fatigued, but exercise of some sort is actually highly likely to improve any of the negative symptoms you may be experiencing. There’s no harm in doing strength training, just perhaps decrease the amount you're lifting for a few days.


Follicular Phase


Mood starts to perk up, start to feel a bit more energised – take full advantage of this! Work up a sweat – or sparkle! Get going on your High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), get the bigger weights out, get running, get dancing, just get moving! Make the most of it while you can!


Ovulatory Phase


Maximum energy right here! Go for it! Lift those weights, cycle stronger and faster in that Spin class! Get burpeeing, push yourself – remember this phase is only a few days!


Luteal Phase


Energy levels may start to lessen, certainly the few days before your period is due. At that stage it is worth easing off a little if you’ve really been pushing it, do some light to moderate cardio activity along with strength training and maybe incorporate a little Pilates/yoga-based workouts to start stretching your body out.


How do I know what to do?


If you don't have a fitness routine at the moment, that doesn't mean you can't start one! Perhaps you do have one, but it's not working for you?


That's how I can help!


As a Personal Trainer my job is to tailor a workout plan that works specifically for you. So if you are one of those people who suffers each month dreadfully with fatigue; that doesn't mean you have to have a week off exercising; no, you can simply let me know that you're feeling pretty rubbish and that week we change your routine, we adjust your plan to fit with how you're feeling and at the end you'll end up feeling better.


Maybe you need pushing out of your comfort zone a little on those periods mid-cycle when you've got all the energy and actually could probably, if you really tried, push yourself a little bit more - but you aren't going to do that when you are on your own, that's where I can help!


Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions - info@gymima.com


Keep your eyes peeled as we'll look at food to help with the cycle next time!



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