PMS and Exercise:
How It Can Help Relieve Your Symptoms
In a study performed on 40 non-athlete girl students, eight weeks of aerobic exercise was shown to reduce PMS symptoms and could be used as a treatment, researchers from Khorasgan Azad University said. This is just one of many studies that prove that exercise can relieve PMS symptoms.
If you are suffering from PMS symptoms that cause the degradation of your quality of life, it's time you started working out during PMS. Read on to find out more about the connection between PMS and exercise.
How Exercise Can Relieve PMS Symptoms
There are so many different biological systems in the body that get astronomically affected by exercise. Let's look at four particular effects that can help relieve PMS symptoms in a big way.
Exercise Helps Reduce Stress
Do you know what the stress response is all about? Well, when you are going through a challenging time, your body goes into a fight-or-flight response, which causes cortisol, adrenaline, and other stress hormones to surge through your body.
This is all fine and good when you have occasional bouts of stress. BUT, in the modern world, people are constantly dealing with stressful situations, so much so that stress hormones course through our bodies day in and day out in high doses.
When you go through PMS, this stress response gets doubled up. Your body goes through numerous biological, hormonal, and other changes that cause you not to know up from down.
Your mood is off, your appetite is screwy, your body is changing rapidly, and you feel like you are a different person altogether. This can exacerbate your negative stress response rapidly. And that's why working out during PMS is so essential.
Exercise imitates the effects of stress, like the fight-or-flight response, and thus provides stress relief for your body. It helps your body practice these stressful situations while exercising, leading to positive effects throughout your body. Therefore, your cardiovascular, digestive, immune, and hormonal systems are all protected from the harmful effects of stress.
Another way exercise helps reduce stress is by getting you into a meditative state. You have probably noticed how the mental chatter that buzzes about your mind calms down and stills when you go for a long walk or bike ride. You don't feel as anxious anymore, which causes you to feel less stressed.
Exercise Boosts Metabolism
There are so many ways exercise can help boost your metabolism.
- It helps you burn calories while you are exercising
- It reduces your appetite post-workout, so you end up eating less throughout the day
- It stimulates your metabolism even while at rest, so you become a fat-burning machine
- It tones your muscles and boosts lean muscle mass, which burns more calories than fat
You might have noticed that as soon as your PMS symptoms hit, you tend to veg out more, sit on the couch longer, eat lots of mindless calories, get bloated, and start looking and feeling like you are 10 pounds heavier. This is something you can avoid through discipline and willpower. But why make it hard on yourself?
Use exercise to boost your metabolism, and you won't have to worry about all these extraneous symptoms anymore.
Exercise Increases Circulation
When sitting at your office desk all day or on the couch all evening, your blood and lymph flow is stagnant and slow. As soon as you start exercising and moving about intensely, your blood flow increases because your heart starts pumping faster to get the blood flowing through your arteries and veins.
Why does this matter if you are PMSing? Well, when you are feeling those PMS symptoms, your body is pumped full of hormones. If you get exercising and moving, your body starts metabolizing and cycling through these hormones faster, which can help you feel less symptomatic.
In addition, increased circulation is good for your heart health and your circulatory system, both of which are affected adversely by PMS, as reported by the NIH.
Exercise Produces Endorphins
Finally, the best side effect of exercise has to be the endorphins. These are feel-good hormones that circulate through the body while exercising and after you finish. They can stay in the body for quite a long time, boosting your mood and making you feel on top of the world.
You get these feel-good hormones for free when you exercise, with no additional supplements or drugs. You know about the runner's high, right. Why not use exercise to get that endorphin rush when you are feeling down and out during PMS?
Best Exercises for PMS
All this hype must have made you wonder what the best exercise for PMS is? Well, there isn't just one. You have three excellent, easy exercises to choose from!
We aren't talking about hot yoga or an intense yoga workout here. You probably want to avoid a hot yoga class if you are PMSing. It might exacerbate your symptoms and make you feel nauseous or dizzy. Of course, it depends on your body, so try it out to see how you feel.
The kind of yoga we recommend is slow, easy stretching. Yin yoga or restorative yoga is perfect for you when you feel those icky PMS symptoms. It will make you feel that strong mind-body connection, which should get you out of your mind chatter and into your body's intelligence.
Studies from the NIH show that even though both yoga and aerobic exercise is good for PMS symptom and pain relief, yoga is better at doing so than aerobic exercise.
If you don't feel like moving about when you are in pain during your period, why not do some yoga on your bed or couch. Or do some poses on your back, like the happy baby pose or legs up the wall pose.
If you aren't a yoga person or feel like you need more intensity in your workout, how about walking around your neighborhood? You could invite a friend to walk with you or go solo listening to an audiobook on your earphones.
Walking is a great low-impact exercise when you are feeling PMS symptoms. It will still give you those feel-good hormones, but it will also help you get out of your head and into your body again. Spending some time in nature, in the sunshine, and in the great outdoors is always a mood booster, no matter what.
It will also give you that boost in Vitamin D which can help you feel better, according to the NIH. Remember that many people are deficient in Vitamin D due to increased time spent indoors, so this is always a good thing to add to your daily schedule.
Finally, if you are finally like walking or yoga isn't enough for your restless mind and body, then how about grabbing your mountain or city bike and going for a ride through the streets. Your heart will get pumping with all that intensity, but it will also boost your endorphin levels and get you feeling good again.
Also, cruising through the city or forested areas on your bike can help you get back on track with what's important in your life—that is, your health and your happiness.
Biking is also great to improve the strength and tone of your leg muscles, so it will help you get fitter, stronger, and more toned-looking. This will boost your self-image and self-worth, which is needed during PMS.
Find an Activity That Works for Your Body
Make sure to follow your body's intelligence and don’t overdo it. Even though many PMS myths say that you shouldn't exercise while PMSing, not every woman is similarly affected by PMS. Some have milder symptoms and can quickly go for a long bike ride without feeling ill consequences.
Others will find it difficult even to move off their couch. That's why it's so important to follow your body's wisdom.
If you push your body beyond its limits when it's trying to heal itself and deal with the myriad symptoms of PMS, it could just exacerbate your pain and symptoms. And you don't want that!
The best exercise for PMS will vary from person to person. (And remember, women aren't the only ones who get their periods; transgender and non-binary folks do as well.)
PMS and Exercise: It’s a Match Made in Heaven
In conclusion, exercise can hugely relieve PMS symptoms, so you should try and get your body moving. PMS and exercise might not be a popular combo, but it's something every PMS sufferer should add to the mix.
If you need extra support during PMS and beyond, check out some supplements from Knowell. They're designed to help you feel even better.