BE AWARE

New sex­ual health find­ings by re­searchers.

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Aside from the phys­i­cal ben­e­fits, work­ing out dur­ing your pe­riod helps coun­ter­bal­ance the men­tal and emo­tional side ef­fects of hor­monal fluc­tu­a­tions. Here, five rea­sons why you shouldn’t avoid ex­er­cis­ing the next time Aunt Flo comes around.

1 Your work­outs reap bet­ter re­sults than usual Sounds crazy, but don’t take it from us, take it from Stacy Sims, ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­o­gist for the USA Cy­cling Women’s Track En­durance Pro­gram and co-au­thor of Roar: How to Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Unique Fe­male Phys­i­ol­ogy for Op­ti­mum Per­for­mance, Great Health, and a Strong, Lean Body for Life. In it, she sin­gles out how a woman’s ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­ogy re­sem­bles a man’s dur­ing her pe­riod, which means it’s a good time to work on achiev­ing sig­nif­i­cant gains in strength and other goals. Back­ing her up is a 2016 Swedish study that re­vealed that train­ing dur­ing the first two weeks of your men­strual cy­cle gives you big­ger in­creases in mus­cle strength, power and mass.

2 Ex­er­cise helps fight the bloat It’s re­ally not you; it’s the hor­mones – more specif­i­cally, fluc­tu­a­tions in oe­stro­gen and pro­ges­terone lev­els – that bring about the bloat. While avoid­ing foods that cause gas (beans, cab­bage, brus­sel sprouts) helps, ex­er­cis­ing dur­ing your pe­riod pro­duces ac­tual re­sults. Do­ing some car­dio in­stantly helps di­ges­tion, which re­duces con­sti­pa­tion and brings re­lief from bloat­ing.

3 You feel and sleep bet­ter When you ex­er­cise, your body re­leases en­dor­phins and ser­a­tonin, chem­i­cals that help bust the blues and boost your over­all feel-good fac­tor. At the very least, a short work­out ses­sion will help bring on a bet­ter night of sleep and more en­ergy the day af­ter.

4Your body han­dles heat bet­ter As the start of the fol­lic­u­lar phase is a low-hor­mone phase, your body tem­per­a­ture is lower than usual dur­ing your pe­riod. This means heat-based or outdoor work­outs may feel eas­ier to do. So if you’ve been putting off try­ing out hot yoga, this is the time to give it a go.

5 Ex­er­cise al­le­vi­ates back aches Lower-back pain is com­mon dur­ing the time of the month. Rather than just slap on a mus­cle pain re­lief plas­ter, con­sider work­ing through it. Core work could help strengthen the mus­cles in the lower back and ease any dis­com­fort there, shares Princess Lai, a yoga in­struc­tor at Free­dom Yoga. Try Navasana, an ac­ces­si­ble and un­com­pli­cated yoga pose for core strength that in­volves leg lifts as well as for­ward folds that easy tight­ness in the lower back. She also sug­gests vinyasa yoga “to get the heart rate up and im­prove blood cir­cu­la­tion”.

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