• Feel Good
  • 21st Feb 2024
  • 0
  • 7 minutes

Everyone’s talking about period cycle syncing – but what is it?

Could cycle syncing be the easiest way to upgrade your wellbeing?

In the many years I have been practicing yoga I have noticed a pattern. Some days, for no particular reason, yoga just feels more difficult than others.

But what if there is a reason?

I’m sure most women experience a slump around their period. A few days where they feel more tired and cramps make it that bit harder to exercise or have the desire to do much of anything.

In recent years we’ve become more aware of the impact of hormones on women’s health and wellbeing.

And with a little knowledge we can make our exercise and wellbeing activities work better for us…

Start with tracking

Most women have probably kept track of their periods, but there is far more to tracking our cycles than just noticing the day that they begin.

I’ve been using Flo to track my periods and I would recommend using it. While you can simply track the first day of your period, you can also track a range of symptoms including your mood, headaches, stomach cramps and energy levels. The app then uses an algorithm to predict when your next period will begin, when you’re likely to be ovulating and to give you an idea of the symptoms you might face each day.

The app has given me a greater awareness of how I’m likely to feel around certain times of my cycle and it is this knowledge which helps me to be kinder to myself and plan my exercise and activity levels around my hormones.

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The phases of our period cycle

Women’s bodies are constantly changing depending on where we are in our cycle and understanding the different phases of our cycle is important. Here’s a breakdown of what’s going on in a cycle:

  • Menstrual phase: The menstrual phase is when the uterus sheds its lining due to decreased levels of estrogen and progesterone. During our periods we might experience cramps as well as headaches, nausea and vomiting. This phase in our cycle can last from two to eight days.
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  • Follicular phase: The first part of the menstrual cycle is called the follicular phase because the follicle is developing in the ovary and estrogen and progesterone levels rise. This phase lasts about nine days, and we can expect our energy and mood to be higher.
  • Ovulatory phase: This lasts for about three days and in this phase, estrogen peaks and progesterone levels rise as the egg is released, usually around day 14 of the menstrual cycle.
  • Luteal phase: The last phase of the menstrual cycle is the luteal phase, which lasts about 10 days. Here, estrogen and progesterone levels are high, then—if pregnancy has not occurred—decrease as the body gets ready to move into the menstrual phase once again. For some, feelings of anxiety are higher in the luteal phase than in other parts of the cycle. This is also when you might experience PMS which could involve low mood, stomach cramps and headaches.

Cycle syncing your fitness

Any woman who has had a period, knows that the impact on our bodies is significant. While I’m on my period I want to snack more and keep a hot water bottle to hand. But I also know that a walk can help. It’s always hard to get out but once I’m walking it eases cramps and gives me a boost of energy. On the other hand, the thought of attending a dynamic yoga class or doing anything more strenuous just doesn’t sound like fun.

And there is science that agrees with me.

Research has shown that hormonal shifts during menstruation have an impact on exercise performance. And while exercise is important for our wellbeing no matter what is going on hormonally, there are ideal times and less ideal times to be reaching for our personal best in the gym. Instead, try a gentle walk or a slower paced yoga class when Aunt Flo turns up!

Once in the follicular phase, this changes. As our estrogen levels rise, so do our energy levels. This is the time to really push ourselves whether it’s a cardio workout or trying a new exercise class and we are more likely to enjoy a higher impact workout in the phase after our periods.

In the final luteal phase of our periods, our body is now preparing for our periods. I used to feel frustration that I would be getting period symptoms before my period had arrived but this is in fact a normal part of our cycle. It’s normal to feel some anxiety and a little more tired so while it is a good idea to still exercise you might want to incorporate some more mindful activities such as yoga, pilates and meditation here to take care of your anxious mind as well as looking after your fitness.

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Cycle syncing your nutrition

I had never considered that I might be able to nutritionally support my body during its hormonal changes. Other than a pretty impressive chocolate craving during that time of the month, I’d not considered that my body might actually have different needs depending on where I am in my cycle.

However, after some research I discover that are some simple changes we can make to better support ourselves during our cycle. Here are the basics:

Menstruation phase: Iron levels will be lower so prioritise iron-rich foods like nuts, lentils and red meat.

Follicular phase: Prioritise fiber, fermented foods and foods high in zinc, such as eggs and whole grains to support the body as it prepares to release an egg during ovulation. You might find that during ovulation your appetite reduces and so you want to eat high quality foods that will support your gut as your gut and digestion can struggle more during ovulation.

Luteal or pre menstruation phase: The cravings. While you might be like me and only want to eat chocolate during this time, it is best to instead eat good fats such as nuts, avocados and sweet potatoes – though I’m sure the odd bar of chocolate won’t do any harm…

Learning more

The way that female wellness is affected by hormones and our monthly cycle is a fascinating topic. Every woman’s body and hormones are different which means there is so much more to learn. From eating for fertility to making the most of exercise during our periods.

If you’d like to learn more about female wellness and cycle syncing I’d recommend checking out the Hazel Wallace AKA The Food Medic’s Podcast in which she interviews a range of specialists on everything from nutrition to egg freezing and fertility.

To read more about cycle syncing check out The Cycle Syncing Handbook and Period Power which will help you to personalise the advice above to your own needs.

While every woman’s experience is different, paying attention to the different phases of our cycles can help us to understand our bodies and our wellbeing more. I’ve found changing my exercise to suit my cycle and just being kinder to myself around my cycle has helped improve my mindset and meant that I enjoy far more of my exercise routine!

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Laura Kingston
Founder and Editor

Laura is the Founder and Editor of High Life North. She had the idea to set up an exclusively digital women’s magazine after feeling there was a gap in the market in the North East. With over 10 years of experience in marketing and PR, Laura had a very clear…


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