Cycle synchronization is this year’s keyword of well-being for worthy reasons; Aligning your lifestyle choices with your menstrual cycle is thought to have a whole host of benefits, from increased mood and concentration, to skin, diet and fitness levels.
Optimized training for women is something that athletes have long been capable of, but it has the potential to positively impact anyone’s physical and mental health, whether it involves intense exercise or not.
“Your menstrual cycle can have an extremely beneficial effect on your exercise and vice versa,” explains Dr Ajai Seth, consultant in sports and exercise medicine at London Bridge Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK. “Hormonal fluctuations during the cycle can positively affect your energy levels and performance. In addition, the release of endorphins and serotonin during and after exercise has an antidepressant and mood-boosting effect, helping us with menstrual symptoms. These hormones can also relieve pain like cramps and bloating by aiding digestion. “
However, he notes that it is important to remember that everyone’s body is different, and we do not all respond to hormonal fluctuations in the same way. Moreover, the length of the menstrual cycle can change drastically – so a “one size fits all” approach cannot be taken to cycle synchronization.
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Originally from New York, the dynamic P.Volve fitness method has been incorporated into the zeitgeist with a new clinically supported cycle synchronization program called “Phase and Function”.
With a team of experts behind it — from certified trainers to an obstetrician-gynecologist, nutritionist, health coach, and more — the virtual series aims to compare your movement, food, and mindset to the tide and flow of your hormones.
Personalized for you (followed through details about the time and duration of your period and cycle) provides an individual exercise and nutrition plan, as well as expert-led education for the four phases of the menstrual cycle; menstrual, follicular, ovulatory and luteal. Results may mean reduced PMS, increased energy and performance plus improved weight management.
If you are interested in exploring the idea without engagement, Dr. Seth explains the basics of aligning your exercise program with your cycle.
When and how to work around your cycle
Note: the first day of your cycle is the first day of your periods. “During your period at the beginning of your cycle, progesterone and estrogen levels are at their lowest level, which can cause low fluctuations in energy and mood,” explains Dr. Seth. “However, during the first 14 days of your cycle (follicular phase) your body adapts and responds to strength training better than in the later stages of your cycle. It is easier to build and gain strength and muscle mass during this therefore, he suggests incorporating strength routines (such as Pilates and weight training) with light cardio during this time to maximize this impact.
“Around the time of ovulation (day 14) there is an increase in estrogen and testosterone levels,” confirms Dr. Seth. “A lot of athletes value their performances and are training for this time to maximize their results.” Higher training intensities and volumes may be more achievable in the middle of the cycle, he advises.
“In the last 14 days of the cycle – the luteal phase – progesterone levels start to rise and can have more of a depressing effect. This is the time when women need to increase serotonin and endorphin levels to relieve these symptoms, but understanding that there may be a slight decline in performance. “He suggests” stable training with slightly lower intensity may be more appropriate during this time. ”
Of course, as well as the benefits of exercise in your cycle, always keep in mind the potential negative effects. “If you think exercise is negatively affecting your cycle and you are experiencing missed periods, this certainly needs further investigation to make sure your metabolic balance is correct,” notes Dr. Seth.
Your diet and cycle
Within the P.Volve program, foods are where much of the personalized experience comes into play. Registered dietitian Vanessa Rissetto, who created the “Phase and Function” nutrition portion, explains that she has cured nutritional options that complement exercise “to properly nourish your body in line with your hormones.”
Indeed, a bespoke approach is always advised when synchronizing your cycle diet. “Calorie expenditure throughout the menstrual cycle is highly individualized,” explains Dr. Seth. “There are so many variables that affect our metabolic activity and calorie expenditure in daily life.” Having said that, he notes that there is some evidence to suggest that women are more likely to crave high-fat and sweet foods during the later stages of their period (the luteal phase) before menstruation, “which may suggest a “Natural response to calorie increase. Burns during this phase.”
He says the key is to listen to your body’s requests regarding appetite, fatigue and mood and respond with the right exercise plan. “Maintaining a balanced diet throughout your cycle, but also matching your calorie intake with your volume and intensity of exercise, will always ensure that you get the right amount of energy.”
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