Exercising can reduce symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle, according to a global study.
In a survey of 14,000 women, 78% found exercise eased the symptoms linked to the menstrual cycle, the most common being stomach cramps, breast pain and mood changes, while one in three had missed work as a result of their menstrual cycle.
According to the study, women who met the World Health Organization’s physical exercise guidelines and ate five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day were less likely to miss work due to menstrual symptoms.
Moderate intensity exercise, results showed, was the most effective way of combating symptoms, though 88% of women felt their performance during exercise worsened at some point during their cycle.
The research was led by Dr. Georgie Bruinvels, co-creator of the fitness app FitrWoman, and based on data provided by users of the social network Strava.
“We wanted to start an important conversation about exercise, the menstrual cycle and other lifestyle factors that will empower all women to work with their body, not against it. We want women to feel comfortable discussing something that is very normal and natural,” said Bruinvels.
The survey also found that teenage girls in the UK and Ireland were likely to exercise less during adolescence than their counterparts in other parts of the world, with 40% of women in the UK and Ireland reducing their levels of exercise during puberty, compared to less than 20% in the US, France and Germany.
It was also found that 82% of women in the UK and Ireland had not received any education regarding exercise and their menstrual cycle. The figure worldwide was 72%.
“There aren’t enough public forums to openly discuss the menstrual cycle, pain and female athletes,” said Strava’s Chief Product Officer Stephanie Hannon.
“The data showed that women who had received some education were much less likely to decrease their exercise participation during puberty — the time when so many girls and young women stop playing sport.”