Hormones are hard work. They cause mood swings, food cravings, changes in energy levels, physical symptoms, spikes in body temperature….the list goes on.
For us women, hormonal changes are typically tied in with the menstrual cycle. You may feel tired and bloated, angry and emotional, but should your time of the month stop you from working out?
Put down that hot water bottle and throw back the covers, because this month we’re talking about periods, how they make you feel and what they mean for your exercise regime.
Hormonal fluctuations and the impact they have on the female body are complex, but let’s keep it simple. The follicular phase comes before ovulation. At these times, the levels of reproductive hormones differ, which consequently affects the way the body functions.
For example, following ovulation, you might feel hungrier and sneak that extra portion of food onto your plate or might want more sugar in your diet. This is because your body is preparing for the possibility of an egg being fertilised and naturally craves more sustenance.
After ovulation and your period comes the follicular phase. Many experts believe that the potential for fat burning is greater at this time due to the change in hormone levels and actions.
KEEP ON MOVING
Exercise programmes have been built around these two hormonal phases for general or targeted fat loss. But for my clients, I believe it is important to be aware of your menstrual cycle and to train accordingly.
Cramping and bloating can often be a reason many women avoid exercise, but by training through these feelings your body will release endorphins, naturally boosting your energy and mood.
Take your workout down a notch or two during the days when your period is at its heaviest. Instead of pounding the treadmill at high speed, go down to a gentle jog or brisk walk.
We can all look for excuses to get out of exercise and I often hear women saying they can’t train because it’s their time of the month. The key is to listen to your body, adjust your workout and rest when you need to.