Does Exercising Help Period Cramps?
Period cramps suck, luckily endorphins can knock them right out.
Yep, it's that time again. Your body's monthly inconvenient reminder that you're not pregnant has arrived. Depending on your pregnancy goals at the time, you're either happy, indifferent or sad. Your cramps came crashing in like a bull in a china shop, so now all you can do is lie in wait. Why can't your uterus just leave a sticky note on the fridge that says "hey, not pregnant XOXO"...? In fact, there are plenty of more tactful ways that your uterus could communicate the missing bun in the oven. Um, let's see...
It could send you a monthly email...
It could mail you a cute postcard from inside your womb that says "wishing you were here!"
It could send you a random text message once a month that says "Hey stranger...."
It could RSVP "not attending"...
The list goes on, but alas we're stuck with menstrual flow and sometimes debilitating cramps to boot.
Alright, let's get serious for a moment. There are many ways to mitigate period pain. For example, you can take menstrual pain meds, or lay with a heating pad. Also, some forms of birth control reduce or even eliminate menstrual cycles. However, there's conflicting evidence about whether that's truly healthy or not. I wore an IUD for years, and while it eliminated my menstrual cycle, it bore a whole host of other issues including weight gain, and stabbing pains. I covered it in the My Mirena Weight Gain Experience post. As a result, I now prefer a more holistic approach to cramps through exercising alone.
Exercise helps by releasing endorphins and increasing blood circulation. 30 minutes of low impact exercises like walking tend to be most helpful as they don't add excessive stress and fatigue to the body. One report published in the Journal of Reproductive Health even showed that both aerobic and stretching exercises were effective menstrual pain relievers. In the report, researchers evaluated 105 female students who experienced period cramping. They were tasked to exercise through two menstrual cycles and found a significant difference in period pain once exercise was used as a form of relief.
So the next time you feel like someone is tap dancing on your uterus, try to roll yourself out of the bed and knock out a quick 30-minute workout routine. You won't regret it.