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Exercise and Pre Menstrual Syndrome

Fitness for mind and body.

How do I know if I have PMS?
PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) is widely regarded as a condition that affects up to one in three women. PMS symptoms occur regularly just prior to the menstrual cycle but may continue all the way through.

Experts believe that PMS is a complex condition covering up to 150 symptoms - which can have a severe and disabling affect on sufferers. These include aggression, irritability, tiredness, loss of confidence, breast tenderness, clumsiness, loss of sex drive, back pain, headaches and weight gain.

Woman running

Exercise can have many positive psychological and physical benefits for PMS sufferers, so try to include some form of exercise in your daily routine.

Even if it is only a walk around the block.

A PMS Workout

Regular exercise is central to relieving PMS. Studies have shown that women who began or accelerated a running program reported a decrease in premenstrual fluid-related symptoms -- such as abdominal bloating -- as well as a reduction in depression and anxiety. It is advised that women to do some form of aerobic activity that raises their heart rate above 120 beats per minute, for 20 to 30 minutes, three to four times a week. (Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.) This is also likely to help women lose as excess body fat may exacerbate PMS.

Some of the relief exercise affords may stem from the mood-enhancing effect of physical activity, the so-called "runner's high," experienced by both men and women who exercise regularly. A well documented stress reducer, exercise provides a "play break" away from the daily grind. In addition, exercise alters something in the hypothalamus, probably the core body temperature, that signals the pituitary gland and ovaries to bring a woman's system more into balance.

If you already play a sport or take other forms of exercise, then PMS is no reason to stop.

If you have not exercised before and are considering any form of strenuous exercise, it is wise to consult your doctor before you start. However you should increase your intake of carbohydrate if you become more energetic than usual.

If possible, you should eat before taking any exercise but, if this is difficult, eat straight afterwards.

It is not advisable to eat for an hour before swimming.

Tame PMS with a Snack

When PMS strikes, satisfy your sweet and salty cravings with the following Trail Mix. One 250 calorie serving is big on appetite-busting fiber and protein, as well as calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B6 - all thought to ease symptoms like bloating, breast pain, and mood swings.

Happy Trails Mix
3/4 cup almonds
1-1/2 cup fortified whole grain cereal (such as Total)
3/4 cup freeze dried banana crisps
4 teaspoons dark chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Divide into 4 portions and package into 4 small zip-lock baggies or airtight containers. Can be stored for up to 2 weeks.

Source:  National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome

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