I made an Instagram post about this, the other day, and decided the topic was “blog worthy”. Exercise. Is it good always? What about when you’re sick? When you have your period?
Contrary to popular belief, strenuous exercise isn’t always good for you, and in fact, when you have your period, or are sick, it can actually knock things more out of whack. Today, I’m explaining why changing up your exercise routine is helpful, and how relaxing might be the best gift to your body.
We know that exercise is good for us; it helps us sweat (which releases toxins), burn calories, release endorphins, get toned and feel better. But have you ever wondered why some days you crush a workout, and others are extremely hard to get through? A lot of it actually has to do with where you are in your cycle!
When we end our period, we begin the Follicular Phase, where estrogen is increased. During this time, our physical energy increases, as well, and we feel very outgoing - ready to tackle something new! This is the perfect time to try something new, with exercise, as well! Because of where you are, in your cycle, stepping out and trying something new will also feel easier, compared to other times of the month. Since energy is increasing, it’s a good time to do more challenging workouts, as well; your body will feel more apt to.
After the Follicular Phase, we move into the Ovulatory Phase, where FSH, LH and estrogen levels are increased, and eventually, ovulation takes place. During this time, your energy levels are the highest they’ll be, so high-impact exercise is going to work really well! Aside from that, this is a wonderful time for communication, and group-fitness classes are a wonderful option, allowing you to exercise, while connecting with others.
Next, we move to the Luteal Phase, which is the last phase before your period. Progesterone rises during this time, caused by the events of ovulation. This phase can differ from start to finish, since physical energy can start off high, but decline by the time it’s ending (and menstruation is near). When energy is still high, toward the beginning, strenuous activity is okay to do. But as menstruation nears, it’s important to back off, especially since this is the time when more women are prone to feeling sluggish. During this time, lower resistance exercises are nice; where you can still work your muscles, but not put your body through a lot.
The Menstrual Phase is the product of the previous month’s experiences, and usually (depending on how the month went), your period will be a good gauge. Progesterone drops, and estrogen peaks, before dropping, to prepare for another cycle. During this process, your body is going through an intense-shedding process, physically and mentally, and it’s important to give it all the restoring love you can. This means, rest and recovery are important! By no means should you not exercise, at all, but be smart. Restorative yoga and stretching are most-beneficial.
*Personally, I take the first few days of my period off, when it comes to exercise. I know a lot of women like to move their body to help with physical symptoms (like cramping), and this is okay! Just be cautious; too much heavy exercise can deplete your already-exhausted bod.
Now how about when you’re sick? Isn’t sweating good for releasing toxins? Yes, it definitely can be, but think about everything else you’re releasing: hydration, already-depleted energy, germs. While you might feel comfortable enough to exercise, while you’re sick, be smart! If you’re contagious, stay home. You don’t want to contribute to your illness lasting longer, or risk the potential of getting others sick.
Your immune system is already tired, working overtime to get you feeling better. Chances are, the harder you work your body, the more tired it’ll get, and the longer your illness will last.
It’s easy for exercise to become addicting; the endorphins released cause us to feel good, and we want those feelings to continue. However, it’s important to be smart; over-exerting yourself, always, isn’t a good option. Your body, just like your mind, needs rest and relaxation, in order to thrive. The next time you’re feeling tired, or worn out, think about where you are in your cycle, or if you’re righting an illness. Sometimes, the best gift we can give to ourselves is rest.
PS: Stay tuned for my “Going off Birth Control/Naturally Regulating Your Hormones” ebook, which will be for sale soon! Cycle-syncing, with exercise, will be mentioned in it!