Yoga is just as effective as aerobic training for women with PMS, suggests a 2019 study featured in the Journal of Education and Health Promotion. Researchers asked 72 women to practice either yoga or aerobic exercise for one month. Both groups reported pain relief and improvements in PMS symptoms, which may be due to the effects of physical activity on mood and hormone levels. Yoga produced slightly better results than cardiovascular training, but the difference was negligible.
Walking, swimming, Pilates, and low-volume strength training might do the trick, too. With a few exceptions, just about any type of exercise can make you feel better, OB/GYN John Thoppil told Healthline. What matters most is to take it slowly and listen to your body. This isn’t the best time to push yourself to the max, and you may need to reduce workout intensity. For example, it’s perfectly fine to hit the weights room, but you may not be able to lift as heavy as usual. If you normally squat 70 pounds, aim for 30 or 40 pounds on the days leading up to your period.
Your best bet is to engage in low-impact exercise, such as stretching, yoga, barre, tai chi, or even dancing. Consider swapping high-intensity workouts for brisk walking, cycling, or swimming. Note that everyday activities like gardening, grocery shopping, and walking your dog, count as exercise, too.