Exercise during period: how to exercise during menstruation and 5 expert tips on what activities you can do

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Here’s how you can stay active during your period 🧘‍♀️
  • Experts believe that doing the right exercises during your period can help reduce or relieve period cramps. 
  • It’s important to pay attention to the four stages in your menstrual cycle so you can plan your exercise around them.
  • Bobbie Butters, a Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Central Lancashire has revealed her 5 top tips on exercising during your period.

Exercising during your period is usually the last thing on our minds, however experts believe that the right fitness routine can actually help reduce or relieve period cramps and combat pain and fatigue.

Representing Mirafit, Bobbie Butters is a Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Central Lancashire, who is here to share her expert insight on how we can keep active during menstruation.

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Butters is also a competitive powerlifter lecturer and an exercise science PhD Student who studied menstrual cycles and muscular strength. Here are some of her best tips for exercising during your period.

What are the four stages of the menstrual cycle?

Before you start planning on exercising during your period it’s vital that you get to grips with your menstrual cycle. Butters says: “Understanding your cycle phase is extremely important, as it will help you to combat any symptoms impacting your day-to-day life.”

She continues: “The menstrual cycle consists of four different phases, and each phase may elicit different symptoms in the body. Energy levels can increase during the follicular and menstruation phase, which is when bleeding occurs.”

Adding: “Therefore, symptoms can be significantly alleviated by consistently staying active and incorporating certain exercises during all four stages.”

Here are the four stages of the menstrual cycle:

Menstrual phase (days 1-5)

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Progesterone and estrogen levels are low at the start of your period. This causes the tissue lining the inside of the uterus, or endometrium, to shed through the vagina. Symptoms generally can include abdominal or pelvic cramps, bloating, fatigue, food cravings, headache, lower back pain, and mood swings. Energy levels could feel lower during this time.

The follicular phase (days 6-14)

This starts on the first day of your period but ends after you ovulate. During this time, the pituitary gland in the brain releases follicular stimulating hormone (FSH), which causes one ovarian follicle to mature. During the follicular phase, whilst some may experience symptoms typically associated with your period, like bloating or cramping, there have been reports of some women feeling more energised and even stronger in this phase.

Ovulation (around day 14)

Ovulation occurs when estrogen levels increase and signal the brain to release luteinising hormone (LH). LH causes the ovarian follicle to release the mature egg. Estrogen levels then decrease after the egg is released. Similarly to the follicular phase, some women experience bloating and stomach discomfort at this stage, while other women experience heightened energy levels. 

Luteal phase (days 15-28)

The last phase of the menstrual cycle is the luteal phase, which happens regardless of whether you are pregnant. The ovarian follicle that releases the mature egg becomes the corpus luteum, and progesterone and estrogen are released. During this phase, there is still a peak in these hormones, however, a key characteristic of this phase is that progesterone is higher than estrogen. Though this is not the same for each woman, typically, energy may begin to decline, and pre-menstrual symptoms (PMS) can appear.

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An expert shares five tips on how exercise during menstruation. (Photo: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP, Dan Kitwood, JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)An expert shares five tips on how exercise during menstruation. (Photo: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP, Dan Kitwood, JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
An expert shares five tips on how exercise during menstruation. (Photo: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP, Dan Kitwood, JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images) | CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP, Dan Kitwood, JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

How to manage your period symptoms

It’s important to know how to track your menstrual cycle and how to recognise and manage your period symptoms, as if you are familiar with this you will be able to plan your exercises to suit each of the four phases.

Here are 5 tips on how to manage your period symptoms:

Track your cycle

Starting from day one of your period, tracking your cycle and symptoms can be a really helpful way to identify patterns. Creating a symptoms checklist, either daily or weekly, can help you monitor symptoms such as fatigue, pain, and mood changes and can help you recognise if something is wrong.

There are plenty of apps that are designed to help monitor menstrual cycles and symptoms, providing insights that can help tailor training schedules, including Clue, FitrWoman and Flo.

Wearable devices

Smartwatches and Fitbits can help you monitor your physical performance and recovery, which can then be correlated with your menstrual cycle phases. Wearing a device at night can also help you track your sleep and mood. If you have had a bad night’s sleep, you can then decide to ease up on exercise for that day. Alternatively, if you are irritable, meditation and deep breathing are recommended to help manage stress and improve mental clarity.


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What you eat during your menstrual cycle can impact your symptoms. It’s recommended that you should try to avoid foods with too much sugar, such as sweets, sugary drinks, or pastries, as this can cause blood sugar spikes, which in turn causes mood swings and irritability. It is also recommended to avoid caffeinated beverages such as coffee and energy drinks. These can worsen cramps and bloating.

Try to fill your diet with iron-rich foods, vitamin C-rich foods, anti-inflammatory foods, hydrating foods, and foods high in magnesium. Leafy greens, lean red meat, nuts, berries, fatty fish, citrus fruits, cucumbers, and fruits like watermelon are ideal.

Do your research

Researching the science behind menstrual cycles and their impact on exercise and your overall health and well-being can help you make informed decisions.

Seek professional guidance

Consulting with professionals who understand how menstruation and exercise are connected can help provide you with personalised support. Whilst sports nutritionists can offer diet plans and expertise in hormonal support, and sports medicine doctors can provide medical advice.

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How can you exercise on your period?

Exercising during menstruation might not be for everyone, but if you want to give it a go it’s important that you listen to your body and pay attention to how exercising makes you feel. It’s okay to adjust and reduce the intensity of your workout during menstruation if it is too much or you are feeling uncomfortable.

It’s important to eat a balanced diet rich in whole foods, which will help to manage your PMS symptoms and increase your intake of magnesium and B vitamins. Staying hydrated is also essential as water will help reduce bloating and keep you energized.

Running or jogging can be a good way to exercise during your period according to our expert. (Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)Running or jogging can be a good way to exercise during your period according to our expert. (Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Running or jogging can be a good way to exercise during your period according to our expert. (Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

What exercises should you do during your period?

Everyone’s menstrual cycle will be different, with some people, including those who have health conditions such as endometriosis, adenomyosis or fibroids, experiencing more extreme symptoms.

It’s important that if you decide to exercise during your period that you listen to your body so you can identify what works best for you. Depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle, you may need to adjust the volume and intensity of certain exercises.

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Butters has shared with us the best exercises you can do to help manage your symptoms during your period.

Gentle exercises

Walking, stretching, yoga, or light Pilates can help alleviate cramps and reduce fatigue.

Running or jogging

This can be as gentle or as intense as you see fit, it’s completely to your level.


If your symptoms are minimal and you’re feeling comfortable, jump squats, box jumps, burpees, and other explosive movements.


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Whether stationary or outdoors, cycling is a great way to increase your heart rate and improve cardiovascular health. If you experience pain with sitting, ensure you have a comfortable bike seat.

Light water aerobics

Not only can the water make you feel more energized, but it is enjoyable and sociable.

Meditation and deep breathing

Looking after your mental health is just as vital, meditation and deep breathing can help manage stress and improve mental clarity.

Strength and resistance training

Compound movements like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and rows are good choices. If you lift weights, ensure that you lift as heavy as you feel and you don’t push yourself too hard.

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Do you exercise during your period, have you found it helpful? Share your opinion in the comments below. Painful periods that interfere with your daily life are not normal, if you have painful periods and need help and support you can find out more by visiting NHS.UK.

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