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Over the past six months or so, I've been making more of a concerted effort to exercise on a regular basis. Maybe this was inspired by the horror of turning 30 (and subsequently 31), but in any case, I find myself more concerned than ever about my health. I wouldn't say that I'm in amazing shape (at least not yet), but I do see results when I commit to a routine and actually stick with it.
One of the biggest challenges I've faced in sticking with a routine is what to do what I get my period. I won't get too graphic, but I'm one of those people who gets it bad—horrible cramps, digestive distress, the whole nine yards. Makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry, not get up and move around. Taking several days off from your exercise routine really impedes your progress though, so I've had to come up with a few coping mechanisms to keep me from reverting to a total lazybones during that oh-so-special time of the month. I'll be sharing those tips with you today!
IF YOU CAN'T STICK WITH YOUR NORMAL ROUTINE, DON'T QUIT—MODIFY IT!
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, it is completely safe and healthy to exercise during your period. Cramps can make it a bit of a challenge though. I've been doing a lot of Pilates videos recently in the hopes of strengthening up my core. If you've ever done Pilates, you know that it can make your abdominal muscles sore, especially when you're kind of out of shape. On a normal day I can tolerate the soreness (and I actually feel really good the next day), but during my period—nope. The pain coupled with cramps makes me want to puke, frankly. Rather than giving up completely, I switch to exercises that focus more on other parts of body—think arms, legs etc. And if I really, really feel terrible, I try to do some stretches and go for a brisk walk at the very least. It's still better than sitting on the couch and wailing.
CHOOSE UPLIFTING MUSIC OR VIDEOS TO MOTIVATE YOU.
You know what has never worked for me? Saying "I'm going to wake up and do 20 sit-ups!" I need some sort of structure to my workout routine, even when I'm doing it by myself, even when I'm not suffering from mind-boggling cramps. Fitness videos are great for providing motivation for strength training, or if you're doing cardio, saying you'll work out to really high-energy music for a certain number of minutes. When I was a member of a gym I always hated the music they played over the loudspeakers, so I would make sure to bring an mp3 player loaded up with energetic songs that actually made me happy. I think this is even more important if you have your period (or PMS) and are in a gloomy mood to begin with. When I'm feeling really, really unmotivated, I use music apps (like Songza) to find pre-made playlists of workout-friendly music. Whee!
DOUBLE UP ON PROTECTION.
This probably goes without saying, but I don't want to "spring a leak" while I'm working out. Nobody wants that. I always use a tampon and a pad or liner just to be on the safe side. Vigorous exercise can... er... move things along. New Playtex® Sport® Combo Packs make it easier than ever to stay protected—each pack comes with a mixture of tampons and your choice of pads and liners, meaning you can just chuck it right in your gym bag without having to hunt around for different products. Their pads and liners have a super-absorbent core are are made with FlexFit™ material, which is designed to twist and turn with your body as you move. Perfect for active ladies! Look for them at Walmart.
STAY HYDRATED, AND CHOOSE YOUR BEVERAGES WISELY.
I will fully admit to being a caffeine addict, but I've learned the hard way that it's best to keep it to a minimum during that time of the month... jitters make my cramps worse. I try to drink lots of water, of course, but I've also found that herbal tea is really beneficial. Chamomile tea in particular seems to have a really relaxing effect... not only does it help me sleep better, but consuming it multiple times throughout the day really seems to reduce my cramps and muscle fatigue too. Give it a try after your next workout—you may be pleasantly surprised!
HEAT IS YOUR FRIEND.
You know what helps with both menstrual cramps and post-workout muscle soreness? Heat! Not only is it soothing, but it promotes good blood circulation, which can in turn alleviate lactic acid buildup in your muscles (AKA owies). I use an electric heating pad on my back and abdominal muscles during the day, and a hot water bottle at night (or when I think there's a good chance I might doze off). Stick-on heat patches are also an option if you're dealing with discomfort at work or on the go.
The bottom line here is that it is possible to stay active during your period, so if you're feeling really unmotivated or uncomfortable, take it slow and do what you can. Get off the couch. Go for a walk and take it from there. You'll probably feel better than you did before you started.
And don't forget to look for new Playtex® Sport® combo packs, available at Everyday Low Prices at Walmart—I found them on a special endcap in the health/personal care section of my local store.
NEW! Playtex® Sport® now available in Pads, Liners and Combo Packs at Walmart! Now Sport Level Protection™ pads, liners and combo packs with Flexfit™ design to twist and turn with your body. Don't let your period get in the way. PlayOn!
What do you think of my tips? Do you have any special techniques for staying healthy and active during your period? Let me know in the comments!
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, however any opinions above are honest and my own and should not be construed as medical advice. For more information, check out my full disclosure policy.