Move With Intent: Stay In Tune with Your Body's Natural Rhythm

by Karyn Toffolo @happybellystrong

The human body is incredible. The amount of strength our bodies can endure is beyond measure. Now that I’ve created a little bit of fire in your being, let's get physical. Have you ever noticed your energy levels change dramatically during the different phases of your menstrual cycle? Maybe you have a day, or even days, that the only level of exercise you want to participate in is shavasana. Do you try to power through and attend that bootcamp class you signed up for, even though your body is screaming at you to rest? If you thought yes, I’m sure the next few days did not pan out in your favor. In today’s society, menstrual cycles are viewed a nuisance. It’s deemed normal to ignore our bodies intuitive cues to rest. We feel the need to power through our daily routines without ever stopping to breathe. It’s time we honor our bodies natural rhythm and move with intent. Cycle syncing our exercise routine is a way to work with our bodies instead of against them. I guarantee you will have more energy, balanced blood sugar levels, and a happier attitude. Our full menstrual cycle is actually divided up into four phases. In each phase, we need to work with the hormones being released to create balance. Instead of trying fight our sluggishness on some days, embrace it and then lean into your energy on other days of your cycle. 

See below some of the exercises I recommend to move our bodies with intent through each of our phases:

Phase 1 Follicular phase (7-10 days in duration)

  • This is a high energy phase that leaves us feeling restless and creative due to the release of FSH hormone and luteinizing hormone. This is a time to try something new as it's easiest to get out of your comfort zone.
  • Use this time to do workouts such as strength training, swimming, boxing, bootcamp classes, sprints, high intensity hiking, rock climbing, or surfing.

Phase 2 Ovulatory (3-4 days in duration)

  • Our estrogen levels are really high during this phase which can make us crave community. We feel highly motivated and energized to connect with others.
  • This is the time to hit the weight room and lift heavy at the gym or HIIT a PR in endurance exercises, like running.
  • Other options could be to take a high energy group fitness class like dance, bootcamp, boxing or spin to feel connected to your community and raise your heart rate.

Phase 3 Luteal Phase (10-14 days in duration)

  • Progesterone and estrogen are high during this time and FSH and luteinizing hormones are low during this phase. Testosterone tends to rise at the end of this phase causing our physical energy to dip as our body. prepares for the fertilization of an egg. This is the phase where you may feel irritable and experience common PMS symptoms.
  • In the first half of this phase you may have some excess energy to burn from the ovulatory phase. Continue with strenuous activity until you notice a lull in energy, then scale back on the intensity.
  • This is a time to tune inward and work on more mind-body connection exercises such as biking, yoga, pilates, elliptical, tai-chi, etc. This is a good time to get out in nature and ground yourself with the healing powers of mother earth. Go on a low intensity hike in the woods, ride your beach cruiser, or garden!

Phase 4 Menstrual Phase (3-7 days in duration)

  • Progesterone and estrogen productions drop triggering the shedding of your uterine lining causing your period. During this time you may experience discomfort in the abdomen with cramps, aches, and pains. Honor your body for the hard work it's doing by recovering. This is essential so your body can heal and repair itself.
  • Schedule rest days, massages, stretch, recovery walks, and yin yoga. As you move towards the end of this phase, begin to elevate your fitness levels and repeat back to phase 1 training. And the cycle continues. 
  • Make sure to follow up your movement routine with a quality nutrition plan. Eat a diet high in protein, rich in leafy greens, lots of vegetables and fruits, good quality fats, fiber and lots of probiotic rich foods. Remember, when your body is speaking, listen. We have a beautiful ecosystem inside of us, nourish it right to reap what you sow.

Until next time,

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