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Exercising During Your Menstrual Cycle: A Guide for Women

By: Nazirah M. Jones, MS., CPT-NASM

For many women, the idea of exercising during their menstrual cycle might seem challenging or even counterintuitive. However, staying active during this time can actually bring numerous benefits, both physically and emotionally. Understanding your body's needs and adapting your exercise routine accordingly can make a significant difference in how you feel during this period.

Understanding Your Cycle

The menstrual cycle typically lasts around 28 days, though it can vary from woman to woman. It consists of four main phases: menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase.

  • Menstruation: This phase involves the shedding of the uterine lining and typically lasts from 3 to 7 days.

  • Follicular Phase: Occurring right after menstruation, this phase involves the development of ovarian follicles.

  • Ovulation: Around the middle of the cycle, an egg is released from the ovary.

  • Luteal Phase: This phase begins after ovulation and ends when the next period starts. Hormone levels rise, preparing the body for a possible pregnancy.

Exercise Recommendations

Tailoring your exercise routine to match your body's changes throughout the menstrual cycle can optimize your workouts and provide better results. Here are some recommendations for each phase:

  • Menstruation Phase:

    • Type of Exercise: Engage in low-impact exercises like walking, yoga, or swimming to alleviate cramps and discomfort.

    • Intensity: Listen to your body and opt for moderate-intensity workouts.

    • Hydration and Rest: Stay hydrated and allow yourself sufficient rest.

  • Follicular Phase:

    • Energy Levels: You might feel more energetic during this phase. It's a great time for more intense workouts or trying new exercises.

    • Strength Training and Cardio: Incorporate strength training and cardiovascular exercises to boost endurance and strength.

  • Ovulation Phase:

    • Moderate Workouts: Maintain your exercise routine but be mindful of potential hormonal fluctuations that might affect your energy levels.

    • Focus on Balance: Engage in activities that enhance balance and coordination, such as Pilates or dance.

  • Luteal Phase:

    • Mind-Body Exercises: Practice stress-reducing exercises like meditation or gentle yoga to manage mood swings and anxiety.

    • Lighter Workouts: Opt for lighter exercises to accommodate potential fatigue or discomfort.

Tips for Exercising Throughout the Cycle

  1. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how you feel and adjust your workouts accordingly.

  2. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout your cycle to stay hydrated.

  3. Rest and Recovery: Allow yourself enough rest and recovery time, especially during menstruation.

  4. Proper Nutrition: Maintain a balanced diet to support your energy levels and overall health.


Your menstrual cycle is a natural part of being a woman, and adapting your exercise routine to suit its fluctuations can help you make the most out of your workouts while supporting your overall well-being. By being attuned to your body's signals and needs, you can create a fitness routine that empowers and supports you through each phase of your cycle.

Remember, every woman's body is different, so what works for one person may not work the same for another. It's essential to find what feels right for you and embrace a routine that keeps you active, happy, and healthy throughout your menstrual cycle.


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