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Believe it or not, gentle exercise can be therapeutic if you’re a painful period sufferer. I know the absolute last thing that you want to do while on your period is exercise. Typing that out even sounds like a bad idea. But, it’s so helpful. As a matter of fact, it’s one of my period pain management tools. Indeed, it’s helped to alleviate cramps, muscle aches, and improve my mood. Now, it’s important that I note all types and forms of exercise are not created equal. And, if you have a painful period you’re definitely going to want to avoid exercise that exacerbates your symptoms. So, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite restorative forms of gentle exercise that are perfect for that time of the month. 

barre is a form of gentle exercise

Gentle Exercise #1: Light Resistance Training

I’m a girl that loves to lift. Honestly, there’s nothing more empowering than resistance training and increasing my strength. But, as much as I love resistance training, especially when it involves weights. Intense resistance training sessions are not a good idea during your period. Chances are you’re dealing with pelvic cramps and low back pain. Basically, your core is not at it’s best. This means that lifting heavy weights or doing strenuous resistance training could put too much stress on the core muscles. Thus, increasing cramping in the pelvis and low back pain. So, instead of pushing to hit your next PR with deadlifts. Opt to use light weights or resistance bands. Even better would be to focus on bodyweight style workouts such as pilates, barre or power yoga. Additionally, you want to gauge your pain levels. I typically recommend light resistance based training on days when you’re experiencing mild pain that is easily managed with medication.  

an elliptical workout is a low impact form of gentle exercise

Gentle Exercise #2: Low Impact Cardio

Gentle, low impact cardio is going to be your friend on mild to moderate pain days. It’s perfect because it helps to increase circulation which releases those feel-good endorphins into the body. Consequently, these hormones counteract the inflammatory effect of prostaglandins. Which means a decrease in painful cramping and general discomfort. If you’re not sure what the heck prostaglandins are. They are an enzyme-like secretion that’s responsible for triggering the uterus to contract and expel the uterine lining. In other words, it’s responsible for starting the period party. 

When it comes to choosing what type of cardio to do make sure to keep it low intensity. Steer clear of any jumping or high-intensity moves. Instead, opt to do workouts such as incline walking, elliptical, recumbent bike or the upright bike. Also, shoot for 20-30 minute sessions you don’t want to tire yourself out unnecessarily. Especially since you’re already fatigued. 

yoga is a gentle restorative form of exercise

Gentle Exercise #3: Restorative Movement

On days that you’re struggling with moderate to severe pain, you’re not going to want to do any intense movements. Even mild cardio may be too much for you. But, finding gentle ways to move the body with intention and concentrating on restorative breathwork may decrease pain. Something as simple as a short stretching session or restorative yoga flow should do the trick. 


Do Nothing At All

While exercise during menstruation is beneficial for pain management. It’s perfectly okay to do nothing at all. Letting your body rest and recover may be just what you need. Especially if you find that you’re dealing with a lot of pain and discomfort during your period. Don’t push yourself or force your body to do something it’s not wanting to do. Remain intuitive and conscious of what your body needs at all times. Make alleviating pain and increasing comfort your focus. Some of my favorite tools include using a hot water bottle for my cramps and lower back pain. Heat pads are also great if you’re having to travel or want longer-lasting heat therapy. Also, medication is a necessity. Follow directions concerning dosage requirements and frequency of when to take medication. 

If you’re struggling with unbearably painful periods and medication isn’t cutting it. You should look into scheduling an appointment with your gynecologist to look into underlying issues that could be causing severely painful periods. Regardless, of what anyone tells you living with a debilitatingly painful period that interferes with your ability to function is not normal. It’s a symptom. Learn more about painful periods and what causes period cramps in the first place in my prior post Why Are Period Cramps So Dang Painful?

Do You Have Any Period Hacks?

What are your hacks when it comes to managing pain and discomfort during your period? If you’re comfortable sharing I would love to hear them. Leave them in the comments below. 


About the Author.

women's health and wellness blogger

Hi, my name is Kathleen but you can call me Kat. I’m a health and wellness professional turned freelance writer and content creator.  You can find me on  YouTube and Instagram. If you take the opportunity to visit me on my other platforms don’t hesitate to leave a message, I would love to hear from you!


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  1. Very Well Health | Pilates Moves to Do During Your Period by Alycea Ungaro PT, MS updated on April 13, 2018
  2. Aaptiv | The Best Workouts to Alleviate Killer Period Cramps by Laura Hensley featuring Meg Takacs
  3. WebMD | Exercise: SOS for Menstrual Cramps Written by Gina Shaw reviewed by Michael W. Smith MD on December 4, 2007, published in WebMD the Magazine January/February Issue 2008