Woman doing gentle stretching exercises in her room while on her period.

Exercising while on your period has many benefits for your body and mind – from relieving period pain and cramps to boosting your overall mood. Even better news is, you don’t have to push yourself too hard with your exercise routine – low-intensity workouts such as yoga can do the job too! So, why not learn about how exercising during periods can help you?

Let’s face it, it's easy to be put off from working out when we have to deal with heavy bleeding, pain, and cramps during our period. Exercising might be the last thing on our minds when all we want to do is curl up with a hot water bottle and grab our favourite bar of chocolate.

But it turns out that staying active during our period is actually a good idea! This is because exercising helps relieve symptoms such as menstrual pain by improving blood circulation in the pelvic area. Working out also helps to boost our mood so we can cope better with whatever our menstrual cycle throws our way.

Here’s the lowdown on how exercising during your period can help you, some of the best exercises you can do, and our top tips on exercising throughout your cycle.

How can exercising during your period help you?

The physical and mental benefits of exercising don’t stop just because we’re on our period. Sticking to a routine or doing low-intensity workouts can actually help ease some of the symptoms… so, how does it work?

Basically, we go through complex hormonal changes during our menstrual cycle, which impact our minds and body. During the period phase, our feel-good hormones are at an all-time low, making us feel tired and less energetic. Exercising helps stimulate their production back into our bodies, so a workout makes us feel better overall. These feel-good hormones also help relieve the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and improve sleep, which can make a huge difference to our mood.

In a study of top female athletes, while nearly 3 out of 4 said they felt worse just before menstruation, 63% said their pain decreased during training while on their period. [1] So why not give it a shot? You don’t have to be a pro to get the benefits — even a gentle workout boosts your mood and energy, helping you feel better about yourself and your body.

Best exercises to do on your period

There’s no single way to stay active during your period. This means that the best exercise might be the one that you love doing because chances are that it will motivate you to move and, better still, you’ll enjoy it!

Just keep in mind that you don’t have to do strenuous exercises or even do them every day to feel the benefits — there’s no point dragging yourself to a high-intensity workout class if you don’t feel 100%. A long walk, a gentle swim, or some yoga stretches are just as effective in helping ease discomfort and making you feel better.

Doing yoga for period pain

Period pain keeps some of us away from high-intensity exercises... and that’s okay! Instead, you can try gentle stretches and practising some restorative yoga, as it can help relieve menstrual cramps while still getting your body moving, especially if you're low in energy. It’s also a good way to help release stress and calm down your mind and body.

Swimming during your period

Periods shouldn’t hold you back, including from water sports if that’s what you fancy! Activities such as swimming can help relieve menstrual cramps, as they boost endorphins in your body (nature’s painkiller!). What’s more, the buoyancy of the water can also help soothe back pain while being easy on the joints. So, all you need to do is to prepare with the right period products to go swimming on your period, and you’ll be splashing about in no time!

Exercising on your period – dispelling the myths

A close-up shot of a person’s leg who is tying their sports shoes
Myth 1: It’s not safe to exercise during your period.

Truth: Provided you don’t overdo it, exercising during your period is not only safe, but it’s also good for you.

A close-up shot of a phone’s screen displaying graphs and information after working out
Myth 2: You burn more calories if you exercise when menstruating.

Truth: Nope. But you do if you exercise in the luteal phase of your cycle, just before your period. [3]

Exercise beyond periods: workout ideas for every phase of your menstrual cycle

As we enter different menstrual cycle phases, our hormones (particularly oestrogen and progesterone) change too. This can make a big difference in our energy levels and mood. [2] Let’s take a look at the different phases of the cycle and how to exercise for each.

A diagram showing the four phases of your menstrual cycle that are bleed day (day 1-5), peak day (day 6-13), burn day (day 14-22) and fight day (day 23-28)

Phase one: ‘strength’ or ‘bleed’ phase (day 1 to 5)

One of the trickiest times to keep exercising is during the ‘strength’ or ‘bleed’ phase in our cycle (days 1 to 5), when our uterus sheds its lining.

During this phase, progesterone and oestrogen levels are at their lowest, which, along with menstrual flow, may bring some extra tiredness into our lives. Not to mention pesky period cramps which could get in your way too.

But there’s no need to push yourself too hard! Gentle activities like yoga, swimming, and walking are good options during your period. You can also try doing some light body stretches to help with any cramps. And remember, exercise produces endorphins— happy hormones that are great for keeping period blues away!

Phase two: ‘power’ or ‘peak’ phase (day 5 to 14)

Day 5 to 14 of our menstrual cycle is the ‘Power’ or ‘Peak’ phase, where our uterus lining has been restored and we’re at our most fertile.

You’ll feel strong and energised as oestrogen levels rise, leading up to ovulation. So now’s the time to give the extra mile at the gym or even take the plunge with some boot camp workouts or high-intensity training.

Oestrogen also increases the blood flow to the brain and raises the levels of other hormones in the body, including serotonin – another happiness hormone, that makes you feel alert, strong, and keen to go out and do your best.

Phase three: ‘endurance’ or ‘burn’ phase (day 14 to 22)

Days 14 to 22 refer to the ovulation phase when one of the follicles in the ovaries releases an egg into the fallopian tube towards the uterus.

During this phase your body produces lots of hormones, such as oestrogen and progesterone, increasing your metabolic rate (this is the amount of energy used over a specific period of time). Having a faster metabolism means that you’ll be able to burn more calories during activities and at rest.

So you could try aerobic exercises or endurance activities like longer-distance running. Or if you’ve ever wanted to take up a dance class, this is the sign you’ve been waiting for!

Phase four: ‘fighting’ phase (day 23 to 28)

From day 23 to 28 of our cycle, we’re in the ‘fighting’ phase, also known as ‘pre-menstrual’ (PMS), where our oestrogen and serotonin levels drastically drop. The empty follicle left in the ovary after an egg has been released produces hormones that thicken the womb lining in preparation for a baby.

During this phase, if you don’t get pregnant, raising progesterone levels can leave you feeling frazzled, stressed-out, and generally at odds with the world. Some of us retain more water, and others get cramps and aches, so it can be tough to get motivated around this time of the cycle.

Trying gentle exercises could be worth it to help you get through these days. They’ll increase your endorphin levels, helping you feel a lot better and more able to cope with PMS symptoms like fatigue.

The best products for period exercise

Some of the most common reasons for not exercising during our period is worrying about possible discomfort from wearing period products, or menstrual blood staining our clothes. Knowing how to choose the right product and being prepared is the best way to tackle this!

But which type of period product should you go for specifically? Let’s take a look…

Exercising with pads

If you’re used to wearing pads and feel most comfortable with them, pick the ones with an absorbency level that matches your flow that day. For example, if you know you’re going to have heavy bleeding for the first two days of your period, opt for products designed especially for heavy flow. Try to go for the ones with wings, as this will help prevent the towel from slipping away while exercising, especially if you’re doing sports like cycling or running, and are sweating a lot.

You could try pads like our Libresse V-Protection Ultra+ Sanitary Towels with Wings so that you can exercise with comfort and confidence.

Exercising with tampons

While you can use tampons when doing any kind of exercise, they’re particularly helpful for water sports such as swimming. That’s because they’re worn completely inside your body, keeping your flow from coming out so you can swim with ease regardless of your period.

If you’ve never used tampons before, wearing them can be a bit overwhelming at first. But once you get the hang of how to apply and remove them, it gets a lot easier. Remember to take deep breaths and try to relax — like with most things in life, wearing tampons is just a matter of practice!

Exercising with menstrual cups

If you are exploring tampons as an option for exercising while on your period, you could also try a menstrual cup. Made of medical grade silicone, it is soft and squishy and sits inside your vagina. So – much like a tampon – if you insert it correctly, you won’t even feel it!

Menstrual cups are also reusable and hold up to three times as much flow as a regular tampon, making it easier for you to focus on your exercise for longer periods of time.

Exercising with period pants

Another option for great comfort and flexibility is period pants. They are washable, reusable, and look just like your regular underwear – giving you freedom to move while being kinder to the planet.

intimawear by LibresseTM period pants are made with moisture-wicking fabric and super-absorbent materials that can hold menstrual blood and other fluids (even sweat!). So, you can feel confident and let your body do its thing – while your period pants do the rest.

At the end of the day, working out around your cycle is all about listening to your body. So do what feels right for you, stay hydrated, focus on building healthy habits, and remember that any kind of exercise – even if it’s just a gentle stretch – is good for your health in the long run.

If you notice you feel exhausted while working out, try not to push yourself too hard. It’s alright to hit pause and reset. Remember that sometimes, self-care also means allowing yourself to stop, rest, and recover — it’s not the Olympics, after all!

If you’d like to continue exploring, learn more about swimming on your period and find out what period product is best to deal with heavy flows.


[1]  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17145688/

[2]  https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-blog/2017/may/hormonal-changes-affect-female-athletic-performance-period

[3]  https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/weight-gain-during-period

Continue learning