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Exercise during menstruation

There is no hard, fast rule as to whether to exercise during your menstrual flow or not. It is a very personal issue.

There have been several studies looking at performance in elite athletes during menstruation and the results are mixed. Surprisingly, most of the athletes competing at the Olympic and international level (is sports ranging from track & field, basketball, cycling, volleyball, and others) perform better or as well as during other times of the cycle. The one exception are for swimmers where the majority either perform similarly to other, non-flow, times or worse.

While these studies involved top level athletes who were driven to compete the studies suggest that physiological function is not compromised by menstruation. While it is a stress on the body each woman responds differently and often some cycles are more difficult than others.

Basically it is a personal decision. Whether the stress of menstruation is physical or psychological, it is a stress which adds to your overall stress level. Adding a high-intensity workout on top of that might not be the best choice for long-term progress. A light workout may ease the symptoms and be a better option.

For an athlete who has worked for years for this one goal and competes in a national or international competition infrequently her choices are limited. Either she misses out on a dream or she pushes herself in spite of the time of month.

Written by Dr. Sternlicht for on 2.06.06