If you’ve ever experienced painful, heavy periods, you know you’d go to any lengths to find relief. Fortunately, you may only need to go for a run. Just as low-impact exercises like Pilates and yoga can help relieve cramps, regular, cardio-focused workouts may also cause your periods to be lighter.
Shaunna Mason, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn in Texas, explained that the key is choosing aerobic exercises that raise your heart rate above 140, such as running, swimming, kickboxing, or brisk walking. “These types of exercises can stabilize hormone levels, causing less lining or endometrium to grow inside the uterus,” Dr. Mason told POPSUGAR. This means that over time — with regular cardio workouts and a healthy intake of calories — you may have less lining to shed during your period, which could translate to a lighter flow.
As for exercise during your period, it’s important to remember that fluctuating hormones may cause your energy levels to shift, which can cause you to feel fatigued, Carolyn Moyers, DO, a board-certified ob-gyn in Texas, told POPSUGAR. Dr. Moyers explained that, while this is normal, you should pay attention to your body and watch for cues or patterns that may clue you into what type of movements are best for you. Likewise, Dr. Mason said that, if you typically experience heavier bleeding that leads to lower blood volume or iron levels, you may be affected differently by workouts during your period. Your doctor can help you determine what’s safest for you.
Additionally, the menstrual flow is dependent on a number of factors — so, while one person may experience lighter periods with cardio exercise, another may not, Dr. Moyers explained. She recommends tracking your cycle along with your exercise routine to help better identify what works for you and your body.