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Top workouts for your period

    Studies vary widely regarding menstruation's effects on workouts. Some say it helps, while others say it harms. Still others say it’s easier to get injured. The truth is that there’s only one real rule for working out during your period: Listen to yourself.

If you're cramping in a major way, listen to your body and take the day off. One day off every month really isn't a bad thing. Then again, if you forego your fitness routine from the first hint of PMS to the last day of your period, you'll be sitting on the couch for nearly two weeks every month without exercise -- and that's too long. So, here are seven exercises that might be perfect for you during your period.

1 Walking

    Even experts against a hardcore workout on your period have to agree that a walk gets you moving without injury or danger. So, put on some sneakers and sun block, and hit the road. Walking by itself isn't a huge calorie burner, but you will feel good about the fact that you exercised. Don't stress the exact calorie count.

2Running

    If you're feeling up for a jog, go for it. The endorphins you release during an intense cardio workout can help you beat the period ickiest that you may be feeling. Hydrate well before, after and during your run, if possible; some researchers say you dehydrate more easily on your period. Whether that’s true or not, errs on the side of safety and keeps drinking.

3Yoga

    Yoga is very customizable; many poses have options to match your skill level. Inversions aren't recommended during your period, although this has no definitive medical basis. Still, having the option to relax in the goddess position if you're not up for a headstand is nice.

4Aerobics

    Sometimes, when you're on your period, you just want to go a little crazy. Aerobic exercise is the perfect way to let loose. Plus, aerobics classes are typically held in a low-pressure environment where the focus is on fun.

5Dancing

    Shaking it up on the dance floor isn't exercise in the traditional sense, but it will increase your heart rate and burn some calories. This is a great option because it doesn't feel like exercise -- and when you're on your period, you might need a little motivation to get gussied up and feel great about who you are. Stepping out into an evening of dancing and fun will certainly give you that extra oomph and make you feel fabulous.

6Planking

    When it's that time of the month, all you want to do is stay home and watch Lifetime movies. Make the most of your TV time by holding a plank position during the commercials:

  • Get down on the floor.
  • Put your arms and elbows under your chest.
  • Raise your body using just your forearms and toes, and hold.

     This is an intense all-over workout. Start by holding your plank during every other commercial and work up to holding through an entire commercial break.

7Working out from home

    Pop in an exercise DVD or pull up an on OnDemand workout. You don't need to dress in fancy workout gear, and quitting early won't be embarrassing if you're just doing it in your living room. Only you will know that you sweated to the oldies in your flannel nightie for exactly 14 minutes before sinking back into your couch to watch the Real Housewives reunion. (Nothing makes you feel less hormonal than watching legit crazy people, right?)

Don't use your period as an excuse to forget your fitness routine -- but do listen to your body if you need a break from it. Give some of the above workouts a try.

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