Exercise. Bleh. I am going to be honest. I usually hate to exercise. At least if you call it “exercise,” I’m not very likely to do it. If you told me to run after the ice cream truck, I’d do it no problem, but if you told me to take a run just for running’s sake, I’d probably pass.
Sure, exercising makes me feel great afterwards, and I feel better once I’ve done it, but that still doesn’t really motivate me to exercise as often as I should. I am aware of all of the physical and emotional benefits that exercise provides, but when it comes down to taking a jog around the block or watching an episode of “Law and Order,” “Law and Order” is going to win every time. I know, I know, I could easily combine my television addiction with exercise (like with a treadmill, perhaps?), but who wants to do that? I do force myself sometimes, though. Exercise is just too beneficial to me to not try.
When I’m on my period, it’s the same old story of not wanting to exercise – except it’s multiplied by 100. I feel bloated, crampy, and just “blah” overall. All I want to do is cuddle up with a good book and a heat compress, swallow some Midol and try to forget about the uncomfortable experience my body is having. And experts are telling me that exercise will make me feel better? Ha! How come I don’t want to believe that?
I decided last month that it was time to put this rumored remedy for bloating, cramps and that “blah” feeling to the test. At the time, I would much rather have lounged in front of the TV in my comfiest sweats and maybe munched on some chocolate. Instead, when I knew my period was just around the corner, I thought I’d get a head start on that exercise stuff that’s supposed to help with all of the awful symptoms.
The week before my last period, I took a 35-minute walk. It was something small, but I figured since I’m not really active I’d ease my way into a pre-period workout routine. The following day I rode my exercise bike for only 30 minutes, but guess what? It didn’t require that much effort because, duh, I could watch TV while I rode it. The next day, I swam 30 laps in my pool. It’s not a big pool, but 30 laps meant about 15 minutes of swimming back and forth. I continued to walk, ride or swim every day that week and when the day of dread arrived, I expected to feel better than I had last month.
I still felt pretty crampy and bloated, and I got my traditional period migraine, but I did feel that I had a lot more energy, so even after my period came I continued to exercise a little bit each day. I actually did notice a difference. At first my cramps were bugging me when I would try to do any form of physical activity, but it would slowly subside. After I did whatever form of exercise I chose for the day, I would find that my cramps were much less severe and I wasn’t bleeding as heavily.
So what did I learn? Well, I learned that I could, and should, get a little exercise every day, for one. Even if I feel pressed for time, I’ll run up and down the stairs a few times, park farther away at the grocery store (yeah, those cliché tips actually are beneficial!) or just take my dog Chloe for a walk. And when my period comes, I’m going to keep doing it because it really does help make it a lot easier to handle. In addition to decreasing the intensity of my cramps, making me feel less bloated and giving me a lot more energy, exercising when I have my period and regularly throughout my cycle seems to put me in a better mood. Lord knows I need all of the help I can get with my mood swings, and exercise really does make you happier. Now if only I could get exercise to eliminate all of the stress in my life, it would be perfect!