An article in the New York Times "What Exercise Science Doesn't Know About Women," brings up the point that, well, scientists don't really know much about the effects of exercise on women's bodies:
Scientists know, of course, that women are not men. But they often rely on male subjects exclusively, particularly in the exercise-science realm, where, numerically, fewer female athletes exist to be studied. But when sports scientists recreate classic men-only experiments with distaff subjects, the women often react quite differently.In the meantime, female athletes should view with skepticism the results from exercise studies that use only male subjects. As Dr. Rowlands says — echoing a chorus of men before him — when it comes to women, there’s a great deal that sports scientists “just don’t understand.”
So what's a girl to do?
Let us fill in the gaps for you! Your bodies are unique - not only are they different from men's, but they are also different throughout different points of the month.
When it comes to excercise especially, it's so important to change your routine according to where you're at in your cycle. We can't always push as hard as we'd like to, and sometimes the pushing can feel really good.While science works to catch up with us, we'd love to share with you some of our tips on adjusting your exercise routine to match your body's internal rhythms.
Exercise guidance for each phase of your cycle:
- While bleeding -Women usually fall into 1 of 2 categories: those who need to curl up in a ball on the first day of their periods and those who feel an energy surge. Either way, we recommend giving your body rest during this phase and engaging in gentle movement if anything at all. Even if you feel a rush of energy, it's not always the best to expend it right away - if you keep the energy contained at the beginning of your cycle, it will better serve you throughout the rest of the month. Examples: stretching in bed, light yoga, walking
- Follicular phase (the week or so after bleeding) - Hone your building energy during this time of the month by trying out new classes, engaging in more social types of exercise like dancing, or simply get really into your regular routine. You'll be feeling lighter and more social after menstruation, so it's a great time to move your body more and try new things. Examples: African dance, jogging, biking
- Ovulation - As your most fertile time of the month, relish in feeling and looking hot in whatever kind of exercise you decide to engage in! Continue with the exercise you were doing in the follicular phase and better yet, practice some love-making at home with your partner or alone. Examples: dancing, love-making
- Premenstrual phase (also called Luteal Phase) - The perfect time to get your aggression out through exercise! As your sensitivity gets heightened during this phase, you may also find your frustration and anger levels rising. Better to move it through your body than let it fester inside! If you're one who gets sore breasts, bloating, or other uncomfortable symptoms, anything that involves running or bouncing around might not be the best option. Go for stationary, low-impact, and/or weight-bearing activities. Examples: lifting weights, power pilates, fast-paced yoga, belly dancing
- Not menstruating at all or very irregular - If you're someone who hasn't had a period for months (or even years) you might want to consider adjusting your workout routine or easing up on it. In some cases of ammenorhea or irregular cycles, exercise is a big factor. Extreme exercise, prolonged workouts, and intense cardio can interfere with your sensitive adrenal glands, forcing them into high stress mode. Stress hormones effect our reproductive hormones majorly, which will impact your cycle. Instead of pushing yourself to the limits, experiment with a different approach. You don't have stop completely, but incorporating some gentle yoga or freeform dancing, and doing in community with other women, will help calm your nerves and restore your hormonal balance, in addition to being fun. Examples: kundalini yoga, restorative yoga, dancing around your bedroom
Ever wonder what’s really going on with your hormones?
We’ve designed a quiz to help you understand exactly what’s out of whack and how you can start getting back to balance.
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