If you have read my last post on Why has my period stopped and how do I get it back? you will know that I recommend to take a break from intense exercise when you are trying to balance your hormones and get your period back. This includes any form of intense cardio such as running or HIIT as well as heavy weight lifting.
What types of exercise are ok during Hypothalamic Amenorrhea recovery?
Low intensity is always the way to go. Walking, easy cycling, yoga, stretching, swimming, dancing.. all of these can be great ways to move your body and feel good without increasing your heart rate too much. If you use a heart rate device I would suggest to stay below the “light” zone of 60-70% HR max which should be an easy pace and not too tiring on your body. You should be able to exercise without pushing yourself and afterwards you should feel energised and happy, otherwise you are likely overdoing it.
That said, if you are tired and you don’t feel like exercising. It is totally ok to rest and do nothing! Actually this is the fastest way to recover so don’t feel guilty if you want to relax on the sofa all day. It’s much better to take a complete break for a month or two than try to continue exercising and the process take much longer, right? Feeling tired is common once you start to eat more and your body goes into repair mode. It’s a good sign that inner healing is happening so don’t freak out and let your body guide you to when it’s time to start moving again.
How long and how often can I exercise during HA recovery?
I really think that the way to recover your period is to take a total break at least for a few months. In the beginning I took a break from all exercise except walking to work and back and gentle yoga for 4 months until I got my period back.
Although I had got my period back, I was still addicted to exercise and I missed the “stress relieving” effects of getting a good sweat on. So once I had 3 regular monthly periods I thought I was good to go and I joined a gym. I started going to exercise classes and lifting weights again.. bad idea! My next 3 periods were 50-60 days long and a lot of the healthy fertile signs I had vanished again. I thought because I wasn’t doing long runs or intense cardio sessions I would be fine but not the case. So I was back to zero exercise for another few months until my hormones balanced out.
Can I exercise again once I get my period back?
Once you have recovered your period, if you decide you want to exercise more, you can experiment until you find the sweet spot where you get the benefits of moving your body but without over-stressing your body. I experimented with exercise a lot throughout my hormone healing journey. In the first couple of years, I found that to maintain a regular cycle I could do moderate intensity exercise a few times a week but I had to keep my workouts to 30 minutes or less and I had to pay attention to my energy levels and stop if I started to feel fatigued. I could walk and practice yoga daily with no issues but I keep these activities to an hour or less.
Now I am 3 years into recovery, I am back to a much more active lifestyle again although nowhere near the obsessive gym-rat I used to be. Now I can cycle, run or do at home circuits a few times a week and still get a regular period. I also walk a lot and go to dance classes like salsa and zumba. I recently tried a couple of times to go back to weight lifting because I genuinely enjoy it but I could feel that my body felt exhausted afterwards and my recovery was very slow. I got moody and irritable for no reason and eventually I realised it was my workouts that were depleting my energy reserves and I had to stop. This whole process has definitely given me a greater awareness of my how my body reacts to different things. This year I started “cycle-syncing” my exercise routine which I am finding really beneficial and I will share about this once I have a few more months of experience with it.
So if you are just starting out on this hormone healing journey, know that the decisions you make now are not forever but just a step on the road towards better health. Sometimes if you have taken things to the extreme (e.g. exercising like a fiend) then the pendulum has to swing right to the other side (e.g. sitting on the couch all day) for you to eventually find a healthy balance. Give yourself the gift of rest and learn to enjoy it. Chances are if you are over tired and stressed, you aren’t reaching your fitness goals anyway and taking a break may actually help you come back stronger than ever. Even competitive athletes take off seasons for recovery and repair and this is all part of their fitness journey.
Over to you…
I hope this article was useful and you feel more confident about how to exercise during your period recovery. Please like this post and follow my blog for more posts on healthy hormones, HA recovery and holistic health.
- Let me know in the comments, if you are trying to recover your period, do you think exercise was part of why you lost your period and how do you feel about taking a break? If you have recovered your period, have you started exercising again? Are you doing the same types of exercise or have things changed?
- If you are looking for support, guidance and accountability on your period recovery journey, please contact me for further information on the health coaching packages I offer. Together we will set you up with a plan to get your hormones balanced and you feeing your best mentally and physically.