When you’re in the middle of working out, the last thing you may want is to have a period leak. But you also don’t want to keep from working out just because it’s that time of the month. Thankfully, there are a number of hacks for exercising during your period, and engaging in these habits can help ensure you get the exercise you want without having to stress about staining your favorite yoga pants.
Although working out can seem like a hassle when you are on your period, it can actually help you feel better. “Every woman’s menstrual experience is different,” Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, tells Bustle. “Some women are asymptomatic, while for others that time of the month may leave them bedridden with pain and bloat. Exercise, however, has been found to decrease some of the painful symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle. During exercise, your brain releases endorphins — chemicals which cause you to ‘feel good’ — and it also decreases your pain sensation by interfering with prostaglandin production, which causes cramping.”
When you’re menstruating, going to the gym seems much more of a challenge, but to make the best out of your workout during your period, try these seven hacks for having your period at the gym.
Drinking enough water is always important when you’re active, but it’s especially essential during your period. “Ensure you are well-hydrated, as being dehydrated can increase your cramping episodes,” Dr. Gaither says. Loading up on water can also help alleviate uncomfortable bloating.
Instead of intense aerobic exercises, opt for low-impact exercises such as pilates or yoga which may be better suited for your energy levels. “Avoid high-impact forms of exercise, including jumping exercises, because it can make cramping symptoms worse,” Mackenzie Banta, a personal trainer with the online personal training app Trainiac, tells Bustle. “Try a slower-flow yoga class that will get you moving, without overdoing it. Plus the stretching will be especially helpful if you’re feeling any low-back pain or soreness.”
Tampons seem to to be the best option when you’re training at the gym. Choose a heavier option or go for a sport tampon that expands to avoid leakage. “Ensure you change it right before you go into the gym to avoid disruptions or distractions during your workout,” Aroosha Nekonam, personal trainer at Ultimate Performance Manchester, tells Bustle. “If you are super heavy, it’s often better to wear a pad too for extra protection.”
“Wear dark gym clothing when you train, even if it is just to give you extra peace of mind,” Nekonam says. If you have any leaks, they won’t be as noticeable in darker attire. “Always carry a spare pair of underwear with you in your gym bag, just in case,” she says.
If you are uncomfortable with the idea of using the gym’s white towels, you may want to bring your own. When showering at the gym, Nekonam says a darker towel can help prevent any leaks from showing up. You can also use the towel to place beneath you when doing seated exercises on equipment.
You might have an easier time working out if you schedule your gym trips for the morning. “Due to the hormonal changes during your period, you may feel too tired or sluggish by the end of the day and feel unmotivated to hit the gym,” Banta says.
“Take some pain relievers prior to working out,” Dr. Gaither says. “It will hit two birds with one stone. You’ll get prophylactic pain relief from sore muscles from the workout in addition to alleviating menstrual cramping.”
Having your period can be annoying when you want to hit the gym, but stick to these hacks, and the experience should be a bit less challenging. You should also always listen to your body — if you need a day off, take it!