Home Workouts for When You Have Bad Period Cramps


When I’m sofa-bound thanks to the unceasing, painful jabs of my period cramps, the last thing I really want to do is get up and exercise — curling up in a ball and rocking back and forth sounds much more appealing.

But, the truth of the matter is working out, or simply moving around my apartment, is one of the only things that eases my cramps faster. The Mayo Clinic actually notes that physical activity is one home remedy that can help some women manage their menstrual cramps, and I’m one of them!

My tried-and-true cramp exercise of choice is swimming, but since the pools near me have been closed since March, I’ve had to explore other living room-friendly options. Ahead, the four workouts that push me through the awful aches — and even a few other PMS symptoms.

Peloton Yoga

My cramps kick in a day or two before my period arrives, along with a side of mood swings and increased anxiety. This particular combo of emotional and physical discomfort calls for time spent on my yoga mat — stretching through active Sun Salutations and letting all the stress go during Savasana.

I’ve tried a handful of yoga apps, and Peloton Yoga is by far one of my favourites. The Peloton app, which costs about $13 a month, offers a ton of different types of yoga — like restorative yoga, power yoga, yoga flow, yoga basics, yoga anywhere, and pre- and postnatal yoga — for every skill set and need.

When I feel the faint twinge of a period cramp, I usually turn to a 20 or 30-minute yoga flow session — which combines the perfect amount of active sequences and seated poses.

XB Pilates

I’m definitely not at my perkiest during my period — in fact, I’m kind of a drag. Positivity and an upbeat personality from my workout instructor is what I need in those moments. That’s exactly what you can expect from Andrea Rogers in XB Pilates, available on the Openfit app.

The low-impact pulses and thoughtful, small movements in Rogers’s workouts fire up my muscles, and her encourageing messages always push me through those last few challenging reps. It was in Rogers’s workouts that I learned that lightweight dumbbells are dramatically underrated — an arms series with 2 lb. weights left me sore for days.


Sometimes plyometric moves get a hard pass from me — especially during the first few days of my period. So, when I want to focus on toning my legs, I turn to P.volve, a low-impact, high-intensity workout method that utilises small, mobility-focussed movements and tools like ankle resistance bands and sliders to target hard-to-reach muscles.

POPSUGAR Fitness Videos

When I do have more energy to jump around or get my heart rate up, the POPSUGAR Fitness Youtube channel is where it’s at. Living room cardio can get old pretty fast, but POPSUGAR’s cardio and dance fitness workout spice up the average jumping jack. I’m a huge fan of the no-equipment videos, which also pop up in strength training playlists, too. Trainer Taylor Walker’s 30-Minute No-Equipment Cardio Workout is a solid place to start. If you’re in the mood to target your core, check out 20-Minute Obliques Workout With Jake DuPree.

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Why Does Exercise Help Cramps?


“Exercise helps everything!” That’s what ob-gyn Erica Cahill, MD, cohost of The V-Word podcast, told POPSUGAR when we asked why exercise can make menstrual cramps feel better. We agree — exercise is basically muscle-building magic — but what exactly is it about a workout that can ease period pain, in particular?

It’s a combination of two things, Dr. Cahill explained. On the one hand, exercise releases endorphins, chemicals that boost your mood and help you feel happier. Beyond that, Dr. Cahill explained that exercise also reduces your levels of cortisol, aka the hormone your body releases when you’re stressed. Cutting cortisol is big when you’re having cramps, Dr. Cahill said, because you’ll decrease inflammation, too.

What does inflammation have to do with cramps? As Jaime Knopman, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist and the director of fertility preservation at CCRM New York, told POPSUGAR in a previous interview, cramps are caused by the uterus contracting, like a muscle cramping up during exercise. Those contractions are necessary — that’s what expels the uterine lining — but the hormones that trigger them, she explained, also cause inflammation and pain. That’s why exercise, which helps to drop your cortisol levels and decrease inflammation, can be helpful.

Not that you’re always in the mood to exercise when it feels like your uterus is preparing to explode. If a workout is out of the question, you can try a heating pad or painkillers like ibuprofen. But if you can manage it, Dr. Cahill says, those natural chemical responses make exercise a great cramp remedy to try before, during, or after your period. Check out this trainer’s workout recommendations for every phase of your period to see if that exercise magic can make your cramps a little more manageable.

Image Source: Getty / Brad Gregory


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