Heart Research UK Healthy Heart Tip, written by the Health Promotion and Education Team at Heart Research UK.
Healthy Heart Tip: Exercise and Menstruation
In the UK there are 15 million women of menstrual age.
The average woman will menstruate around 500 times throughout her lifetime.
We know that exercising can improve our cardiovascular health, but should you exercise during your period, and is it beneficial? We cover some FAQs here:
Can exercise reduce menstrual cramps?
More research is needed in this area to give us a definite answer on how exercise can reduce period pain.
Given the overall health benefits of exercise, and the relatively low risk of side effects reported in the general population, women may consider using exercise, either alone or in conjunction with other modalities to manage menstrual pain.
Do my iron levels change during my period?
Iron is important in making red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body.
Exercise can lower the iron levels in your blood, especially if you exercise at a high intensity or for long periods of time.
Heavy menstrual bleeding can make you more susceptible to iron deficiency anaemia.
In order to keep exercising, and maintain normal iron levels during your period, we recommend you look to consume iron rich foods (red meat, beans, nuts, dried fruit, fortified breakfast cereals) during menstruation.
Can over-exercising cause irregular or missed periods?
If you are over-training, and you’re burning far more calories than you are consuming, this can cause either irregular or missed periods.
A regular period is a sign of good health.
If you experience irregular or missed periods this can cause other serious health conditions, and therefore you are advised to speak to a nurse or doctor.
Exercise has many health benefits, and researchers have not been able to find any differences during the menstrual cycle in a woman’s ability to exercise.
Consequently, it’s important to continue aiming to achieve 150 minutes of physical activity per week, even during your period.
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