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These Are The Best Workouts To Do Before, During & After Your Period

Image by Pietro Karras / Stocksy
May 31, 2019

When it comes to enjoyable activities, exercising during your menstrual cycle ranks lower than walking home in the rain without a jacket. Seriously, has anyone ever craved exercise during a period? (If so, please refer them to me—I need their secret.)

Even though the time surrounding your period may feel like the worst time to work out—because you feel achy, cramp-stricken, or just don't want to—it's actually one of the best times to move your body.

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But the question still stands: What workout should you do, and when? Here's what Ellen Vora, M.D., recommends for each phase of your cycle.

What type of exercise should you do before your period starts?

Preparing your body for your cycle is just as important as caring for it during your cycle. The best way to do that? Slow it down. Do everything you can to ease into your cycle—including slowing down your exercise routine.

"For many of my patients, their body is telling them to slow down and take it easy just before their cycle," Vora says. "So something like restorative or yin yoga is best at that time."

There are yoga flows that specifically target stress and anxiety, or if you're short on time, you can still reap major benefits from these quick poses.

What type of exercise should you do during your period?

Considering every woman's cycle is different (and we all have different energy levels during them), the best workout is the one your body feels able to do.

"Women feel very different during their cycle," Vora notes. "The key is to listen to YOUR body and do what feels right."

If you're feeling stressed and want to jog, go for it. If you feel achy and would rather stretch or do something less intense, yoga and Pilates are there for you. A word of caution, however, about inversions: Now is not the best time to do them.

Personally, Vora recommends dancing. "It keeps the energy moving."

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What type of exercise is best to do after your period?

You know how before your period you should take it slow? Well, after your period is a good time to level up. Take that boxing class, do some serious HIIT, or bask in your long run. In other words: Live it up.

"For most women, the follicular phase—the time just after your cycle ends—is the best time to do high-energy, demanding exercise," Vora remarks. "So at this point, go nuts and do whatever you enjoy."

The take-aways.

Before your period, slow and stress-releasing workouts are the way to go. During your period, do what feels right to you. After your period, crank up the intensity and let it all go. Whatever you do, listen to your body—if you truly listen, it will rarely lead you astray.

So next time it's that time, try syncing your workouts with your cycle. We bet you feel more balanced (and badass) in no time.

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Ray Bass, NASM-CPT
Ray Bass, NASM-CPT
mbg Associate Movement & Wellness Editor

Ray Bass is the associate movement and wellness editor at mindbodygreen and a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer. She holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Pennsylvania, with honors in nonfiction. A runner, yogi, boxer, and cycling devotee, Bass searches for the hardest workouts in New York (and the best ways to recover from them). She's debunked myths about protein, posture, and the plant-based diet, and has covered everything from the best yoga poses for chronic pain to the future of fitness, recovery, and America's obsession with the Whole30 diet.