Can Women Workout During Menstruation?
Short answer: Women can and should workout during menstruation.
There is no denying the fact that women’s physiology, genes and response to exercise differ considerably from those of men.These differences become all the more significant at the onset of menstrual cycle.
During this period the general tendency among women of all age and nationality is to avoid any type of physical exercise that is not part of their daily tasks. Contrary to the popular belief, science advocates that physical activity during this monthly cycle is preferable.
To understand the changes in women’s body first we need to understand two categories of hormones as they play a crucial role during the menstrual cycle.Hormones are special chemical messengers in the body that are created in the endocrine glands. These messengers control most major bodily functions, from simple basic needs like hunger to complex systems like reproduction, and even the emotions and the mood.(*1)(Hormone Health Network, Endocrine Society). These hormones are further divided into Catabolic and Anabolic hormones based on their importance in athletic performance.
Anabolic Hormones: These are the ones that build tissue or muscle.
Catabolic Hormones: These are the ones that breakdown energy sources such as glycogen, fat and protein. These are generally considered bad however; they serve important aspect in functioning of the body.
To elaborate, the hormonal changes of women’s menstrual cycle make strength training more efficient during the first half of the cycle, prior to ovulation (follicular)phase, owing to peak circulations of prominent hormones estrogen and testosterone in that phase. Levels of these anabolic(which protect muscle mass in the body from being broken) hormones fall during the second half of cycle, while progesterone a catabolic hormone increases.
To conclude, strength training should be done by women in the initial phase of menstrual cycle and recovery exercises such as yoga in the last stage of menstrual cycle. This claim is substantiated by a researchconducted by Lisbeth Wikström-Frisén of Umea University, Sweden (*2). This research revealed that training that is concentrated to the first two week of the cycle have more of an effect on muscular strength, power and muscle mass. The study is a part of a dissertation that also shows that periodic training could be implemented without any female specific exercise-related complications and was perceived positively by participants.
So, ladies take note and next time train like a lady J
We would love to hear your thoughts and feedbacks for the article.