Exercise is an important way to stay strong, keep your weight in check, and reduce your chances of getting serious diseases like diabetes. If you’re a woman struggling with the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), staying physically active may do even more for you.
If you have PMS, you have symptoms each month during the days before your period -- and they’re bad enough that they affect your normal life. You might feel emotional changes, like trouble with your mood, sleep, or concentration. And you could have physical changes -- fatigue, bloating, or food cravings.
You can manage these symptoms, though. Different techniques work for different people, but for many women, exercise can help a lot.
What Exercises Help?
Research suggests that aerobic exercise can help improve symptoms of PMS, such as depression and fatigue. One study found that women who did 60-minute aerobic sessions three times a week for 8 weeks felt much improved physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Anything that boosts your heart rate is considered aerobic exercise. Brisk walking, running, biking, and swimming are all good choices. It helps improve your mood by boosting important brain chemicals called endorphins. Increased endorphins may also help reduce the amount of pain you feel from PMS.
Yoga is another activity that might help. It can help reduce stress, and that’s a big part of managing your symptoms. One study found that many women who participated in a 12-week yoga program had less menstrual pain, cramps, and bloating. They also had more energy and a better mood. Another study showed that certain yoga poses – “cobra,” “cat,” and “fish” -- helped ease painful cramping (dysmenorrhea).
Whatever the exercise, don’t overdo it: Research suggests that your muscles may move differently during your period, making injuries more likely. Adding certain strengthening and balancing exercises to your fitness routine might lower your chances of getting hurt.
Talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.
When Should I Exercise?
To really see whether exercise can help, you should make it a regular part of your life. Don’t just save your workouts for the days you have the worst PMS symptoms. All it takes is about 30 minutes a day, most days of the week, to see results. Don't forget to drink plenty of water!