Diet, Exercise and Menstruation – How Your Lifestyle Affects Your Monthly Period

February 7

Diet and exercise have a lot to do with menstruation. Not only during your cycle but in the days before you start your period, what you eat and how active you are can mean the difference between a difficult period or an easy one.

I noticed that many women frequently read my posts regarding menstruation, so I wanted to dedicate this blog post to problems in this common area of women’s lives. From the age of 16 until around 50 years of age, women are reminded of their femininity by the return of their monthly cycle known as menstruation.

A normal menstrual cycle lasts from 3 to 7 days, cycling every 21 to 36 days. Most young women start their periods by age 16 and should consult a physician if she has not started by her 17th birthday.

For most women, they can continue a regular productive schedule during their menstrual cycle. Now of course, there may be days when cramping and a heavy flow may keep you from feeling your very best, but if your monthly period disrupts your life regularly, you might want to consult your physician.

Regular exercise like aerobics and strength training can actually help guard against cramping by strengthening the abdominal wall and back muscles. A sensible diet that is low in saturated fat and sodium can reduce swelling and alleviate some of the discomfort of premenstrual syndrome. I recommend my 30 Minutes To A New You Exercise Program and my Fitness4Her Diet to help you regulate your hormone levels and lower your chance of suffering from these symptoms.

It has been found that some women who engage in intense training such as runners, who run more than 50 miles per week, may actually stop having their periods temporarily or permanently. Although this may seem like a dream come true, it is let your doctor know that you have stopped having a period, as this could be an indication of a more serious medical condition.

Up to 43% of athletic women who work out at extremely high intensities do not have menstrual periods. This condition is known as amenorrhea and has been linked to low estrogen levels as well. Because estrogen is responsible for bone health, amenorrhea can lead to osteoporosis later in life and should not be overlooked.

If you suffer from crazy menstrual periods with gaps that last a month or two between cycles, you are not alone. This common menstrual dysfunction is called oligomenorrhea, or infrequent menstruation of two or more months between cycles.

But like amenorrhea, oligomenorrhea is not a permanent condition. In fact, in most highly active women, normal menstrual functioning returns one to two months after decreasing the level of physical activity. If amenorrhea persists, a woman should undergo a thorough hormonal and gynecological evaluation and, if necessary, receive medical treatment. 

One of most common and talked about types of menstrual problems is premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Believed to be caused by a hormonal imbalance of either an excess in estrogen or a deficiency in progesterone. Premenstrual syndrome encompasses a variety of emotional, behavioral and physical symptoms. Regular exercise has been known to lessen the pain and discomfort of these conditions. But a diet low in sodium and saturated fat will reduce swelling and cramping. Remember to drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated throughout this special time and avoid carbonated drinks because of their tendency to leave you feeling bloated.

So you see, diet and exercise have a lot to do with your menstrual cycle. Your period is an essential part of your health. When your body stops producing estrogen, you will cease having your period. After that, your body has its own problems that you will have to contend with. Start making this monthly time of the month, something you barely notice. Take charge of your life by eating sensibly and staying active and fit.

~ Karen Ficarelli

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Posted In: Women's Health


  1. This is an excellent article! I have lowered my salt intake the week before and during my period and my bloating has decreased. I also have stopped drinking soda and carbonated drinks because I would get additional pain during that time of the month. I asked my doctor and she confirmed that consuming soda/carbonated drinks the week before mentruation could cause pain/bloating. Thanks for the great info!!

  2. Nicole F on 02/09/2011 at 4:15 pm
  3. […] Source: Fitness4Her […]

  4. Diet, Exercise and Menstruation – How Your Lifestyle Affects Your Monthly Period on 02/09/2011 at 6:45 pm

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