Did you know that it’s not only what you eat that can affect PMS but that the way you exercise plays a role too?
If you do the same types of exercises and follow the same routines throughout the month, this can actually create an even bigger imbalance to your estrogen levels (aka estrogen dominance), which is one of the main reasons women get PMS. Following the same exercise program day in and day out can actually stress your endocrine system, which causes extra cortisol (the stress hormone) to be released; and, when cortisol is in control, hormones like estrogen and progesterone get really out of whack!
Exercise stress can also cause problems with blood sugar, thyroid hormone production, adrenal fatigue and skin appearance. So, in order to reverse estrogen dominance and endocrine system stress, you need to learn how to exercise the right way! What does this mean? Well, as women, we have this unique roughly 28-day cycle that our hormones follow so it makes sense that exercising according to that cycle would work out in our favor. In fact, performing the right exercises for each phase of your cycle will actually lead to improved energy, better sleep, weight loss and way more comfortable and tolerable periods!
Want to know how it’s done?
When you’re mapping out your monthly exercise routine, start your program on the first day of your period – this is day 1. You may need to pay a bit more attention to your energy levels and cycle pattern for a few months so you know where your body lands in each phase, but you’ll figure it out pretty fast. (Also note that if you’re extremely tired and/or stressed out, your energy levels and hormones will likely be out of whack, so take it easy and consider these things when planning your program.)
This phase typically lasts 4-7 days and uses up a lot of metabolic energy. It’s important to focus on rest and relaxation, so don’t feel bad if you have to schedule two or three days of rest. Yoga, stretching, light walking and lazy swimming are good activities for this phase.
This phase is the longest and can last anywhere from 7 to 10 days. You’ll know you’re entering this phase because your energy level will start to rise. Higher intensity workouts are great in this phase, especially as you progress towards the end of it. You may even be able to sustain 7 to 10 straight days of exercise now, but definitely listen to your body. It’s also a great time to try new things so check out classes like Zumba, Tabata, or Power Cardio. If you’re hormones are balanced, you should be feeling super energized at this time!
This phase is about 3-4 days and you should get a burst of energy now. It’s a great time for longer duration cardio sessions or harder intensity classes. Incorporate a couple of HIIT plus strength sessions at this time too. You might want to adjust your eating habits during this phase to keep up with the extra energy expenditure – aim for 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day.
Energy starts off quite high at the beginning of this 7-10 day phase but will wane as you approach your period again. Focus on choosing workouts that match this pattern; stick to cardio and power workouts at the beginning of the phase and move towards swimming, strength-only sessions, and walking as you get closer to the end. Rest days may also be important for your body here so stay in tune with it! It’s during this time that PMS symptoms will start to appear, which indicates a hormonal imbalance. Start your next cycle off right by eating lots of leafy greens and fiber-rich foods now too.
It’s taken me a few months to start to figure out how to really listen to my body but I think that exercise cycling has made a huge difference in my energy levels. And, I don’t feel guilty when I take a rest day when it’s needed (and neither should you!), which I know has helped reduce my stress levels. Give this a try over the next month or two – I’d love to hear how it works for you so please let me know!
Have questions about exercise cycling? Email me!