Does your exercise preference seem to change with the moon? One day you're racing down the running path, the next you're snoring through child's pose? While a variety of factors go into why our bodies want to exercise in some ways more than others, including how much we're sleeping and what types of foods we're eating, one huge factor in this puzzle is hormones. And if we don't honor our hormone levels, our bodies will protest, leaving us with massively spiked cortisol levels or without the energy to work out at all.
The follicular phase starts on the day your period ends, and it's the time when the follicles in the ovary mature, preparing for ovulation. "Do cardio midday or in the afternoon during follicular phase," says Alisa. "Estrogen is low and cortisol levels are good."
If you can pop out of the office to get some cardio in midday, great! If not, hitting the treadmill after hours will be just as beneficial and keep your hormones in balance.
Take advantage of all that energy you have during the ovulation phase and set your alarm for an hour earlier than usual. "Morning workouts are easiest during ovulation, as you have access to testosterone. You're ovulating, you're full of energy, so early morning workouts are the way to go," Alisa explains, noting that this is also the case during the first half of the luteal phase.
As Alisa noted above, go for early morning workouts during the first half of the luteal phase. But once you've settled into it you may start to feel more bloated (think PMS symptoms), so Alisa suggests doing Pilates or strength training in the early evening of the luteal phase.
She also recommends practicing yin yoga (a restorative yoga style) before bed at any point in your cycle. This may be particularly beneficial toward the end of your luteal phase if you're feeling crampy, bloated, or a bit emotional.
When you're on your period, walk it out. You've probably heard that mild exercise is one of the best ways to relieve cramps, but even if you're not experiencing discomfort, menstruating is a time to go easy on yourself. Walk home from work or take an evening stroll with your partner—your body will thank you and your hormone levels will be just right.
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