What happens when we do exercise in periods?

Exercise in Periods: What Happens to Your Body?

Regular exercise is an excellent way to stay fit and healthy. It keeps our heart, lungs, and muscles in good shape and improves overall health. However, many women struggle with exercising during their periods. They believe that menstruation can negatively affect their performance, and some even choose to skip their workouts altogether during this time.

But is that really necessary? What happens when we do exercise during our periods? Let’s find out.

Changes in Hormones During Menstruation

Before we dive into the effects of exercise on periods, let’s first understand the changes that occur in your body during menstruation.

Estrogen and Progesterone Levels

The menstrual cycle is controlled by two hormones – estrogen and progesterone. These hormones rise and fall throughout the cycle, leading to menstrual bleeding at the end of the cycle.

During the first half of the cycle, estrogen levels rise, leading to the growth of the uterine lining. Progesterone levels stay low until after ovulation. After ovulation, progesterone levels rise, leading to the thickening of the uterine lining in preparation for pregnancy.

Core Body Temperature

Progesterone also causes a rise in core body temperature. This happens to prepare the body for pregnancy and create a good environment for the embryo to grow. This rise in temperature can be the cause of the feeling of warmth in the week before your period.

The Effects of Exercise on Menstruation

Now that we know how our hormones can change throughout our cycles, let’s take a look at what happens when we exercise during each phase of the menstrual cycle.

Follicular Phase

The follicular phase begins on the first day of your period and lasts until ovulation. During this time, estrogen levels are on the rise, and your body is preparing to release an egg.

Exercise during this time can be beneficial as it can help reduce menstrual cramps, improve mood, and reduce bloating. Moderate-intensity exercises such as running, cycling, and swimming can be great choices during this time.

Luteal Phase

The luteal phase, which occurs after ovulation, is characterized by high levels of progesterone. At this time, you may experience PMS symptoms such as bloating, mood swings, and breast tenderness.

Exercise during this phase can help relieve these symptoms, reduce anxiety, and improve quality of sleep. Low-impact activities such as yoga, Pilates, and walking can be beneficial during this time.

During Menstruation

Many women are hesitant to exercise during menstruation. However, research suggests that light to moderate exercise can be beneficial during this time, as it can help reduce menstrual cramps, improve mood, and reduce fatigue.

Activities such as walking, yoga, and gentle stretching can help alleviate these symptoms. However, if you feel uncomfortable or experience heavy bleeding or severe cramps, it’s best to avoid exercise and rest instead.

Tips for Exercising During Your Period

Here are some tips to keep in mind if you decide to exercise during your period:

  • Wear comfortable clothing to avoid irritation and discomfort.
  • Choose activities that you enjoy and that can help relieve your symptoms.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after exercise.
  • Listen to your body and rest if you feel uncomfortable or experience any pain.
  • Use a menstrual cup or tampon instead of pads to avoid discomfort and prevent leakage.

The Bottom Line

Exercising during your period can be beneficial for your health and can help alleviate PMS symptoms. However, it’s essential to listen to your body and choose activities that feel comfortable and enjoyable.

If you experience heavy bleeding, severe cramping, or any other unusual symptoms during your period, it’s best to avoid exercise and rest instead. Always consult with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns or doubts.


Here are some of the most common questions related to exercising during periods:

  • Will exercising during my period make it heavier?
    No, exercising during periods does not make them heavier. Menstrual flow is regulated by hormones, not exercise.
  • Can I swim during my period?
    Yes, it’s safe to swim during your period. Use a tampon or menstrual cup to avoid leakage.
  • Can I do high-intensity exercises during my period?
    Yes, you can do high-intensity exercises during your period if you feel comfortable. However, some women may prefer low-impact activities due to PMS symptoms.
  • Can exercising during my period delay the onset of the next cycle?
    No, exercising during periods does not have any impact on the onset of the next cycle.


1. Brar, J., & Lashewicz, B. (2021). Menstrual Cycle Physiology: Implications for Sport and Physical Activity. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 65(2), 118–130. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11655-013-1613-9

2. Lynch, B. M. (2012). Exercise and the menstrual cycle: what do women know? European Journal of Applied Physiology, 112(11), 3635–3643. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-012-2303-7

3. Rabinovich, L. (2021). Female Athletes and Menstrual Health: Addressing Myths and Misconceptions. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 20(5), 219–222. https://doi.org/10.1249/jsr.0000000000000835