While the world tends to run on a 24 hour cycle, people who menstruate often find that they have an additional 28 day (or thereabouts) cycle to take into consideration. Training effectively around your menstrual cycle is increasing in popularity, and with good cause. Cycle syncing to find better balance has been extremely beneficial for many women.
The term ‘Cycle Syncing’ was trademarked by Alisa Vitti, Functional Nutritionist, HHC, AADP. Vitti founded the FloLiving Hormone Center, created the MyFlo app, and first described the concept in her book, WomanCode.
Cycle Syncing is all about working with your body and the different phases it is in. Learning more about how to sync your diet, exercise and workload to your cycle can help you to find a much better balance and feel your best.
If you are interested to learn how you can practice cycle syncing to balance your hormones, keep reading!
Phases of your menstrual cycle:
- Menstrual (part of follicular phase)
- Follicular (pre-egg release)
- Ovulatory (process of release of the egg)
- Luteal (post-egg release)
(Note: The average days given below are different from person to person. Apps like FloApp, Ovia App, Clue, Cycles etc can all help you to track your cycle and get a better understanding of your own body’s flow.
During this phase, Estrogen and Progesterone levels are low. The lining of the uterus (the endometrium), sheds causing bleeding.
Starts on the first day of your period and lasts for about 13 to 14 days, ending on Ovulation. Estrogen and Progesterone levels start rising. You will feel like you have a lot more energy and stamina.
During the follicular phase, the pituitary gland in your brain releases a hormone known as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). FSH (surprise!) stimulates the production of follicles on your ovary, one of which (usually) will mature into an egg. During this phase, your uterus lining also thickens in preparation for possible pregnancy.
This typically lasts for three to five days between days 12 to 17 of your cycle. Your Estrogen levels are at its peak and your Progesterone and Testosterone levels rise significantly. This is the phase in which pregnancy is most likely to occur. Studies also show that sexual motivation is usually at it’s highest.
The last phase of your menstrual cycle is the Luteal phase, around days 18 – 28/ 30. This phase is characterised by the peak in your Progesterone levels. Because of this a lot of women could feel less energetic, experience brain fog, an increase in anxiety or other symptoms that are associated with PMS. During this phase (if an egg isn’t fertilised and pregnancy has not occurred), your hormone levels will decrease and your menstrual cycle will begin all over again.
(It is worth noting that those who are using hormonal contraceptives are most likely not experiencing ovulation and thus won’t have these same cycles to sync to.)
So what type of exercises should you do during each phase?
There are so many studios on Bookamat offering a wide range of activities. Allow us to use the concept of Cycle Syncing to showcase how these varied workouts can be beneficial for you during different stages in your cycle. 😉
(Note: this advice is general and may not be relevant to your menstrual cycle. Please consult your GP or other medical practitioner before deciding if cycle syncing is right for you.)
- Menstrual Phase
- Light movements such as yoga and walking are great during your menstrual phase. Yoga poses, controlled Pilates exercises and stretches, a slow paced jog, strength training with light weights are all good to implement depending on how you feel.
- As your Estrogen and Progesterone levels are low, you may feel like you have less energy. Not to mention the cramps and bloating that some experience during the menstrual phase. Your body has a lot going on physiologically during this phase, so pushing it with higher intensity workouts could cause your body to be under more stress. As always, listen to your body and see how you feel. The general rule of thumb is that now is not the time to really ramp up the strength or endurance training.
- Follicular Phase
- Ovulatory Phase
- Luteal Phase
- In the beginning of your Luteal phase your energy may remain high, but will usually start dropping as your hormone levels decrease and you get closer to menstruation.
- Light to moderate exercises are best as energy levels decline. This is where you can once again incorporate less strenuous exercises such as yoga, Pilates, barre and swimming in again.
So what do we hope that you take away from this article? Honour your body. Know that your hormone levels fluctuate fairly drastically over the course of your cycle. You don’t need to feel guilty about not pushing your body with heavy strength of HIIT workouts every week. Opting for a walk or a lower intensity workout could actually be more beneficial, leaving you more inclined to dial it back up again as your energy levels increase.
Bodies that menstruate are wonderfully complex. Being more in touch with how you operate can be so empowering, helping you to work with your body and not feel like you are fighting it. Period trackers (like these apps) can shed light on your particular cycle and how you can move and work in a way that feels best for your body.
Whether it’s a beginner yoga session or a new dance workout to get your heart pumping – have a look on Bookamat to see which studios are close to you, and try something new in the new year!
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