Regular exercise can help reduce the painful cramps, irritability, gastrointestinal discomfort, fatigue, headaches, and other bothersome symptoms that often accompany menstruation. Aerobic activities that increase heart rate, such as walking, swimming, running, or cycling, are particularly useful in relieving period pain.
“While it may be tempting to use your period as an excuse to stay on the couch, the data tell us that you’ll feel better if you stay physically active, doing something fun and enjoyable,” Cordelia W. Carter, MD, director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Center and clinical associate professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at NYU Langone, explains to Bustle. In the long term, exercise can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and even some forms of cancer.
Women should be careful to avoid excessive exercise, which can increase the release of stress hormones and lead to amenorrhea, the absence of a period. This can cause osteoporosis, or weak bones.
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