We get it – sometimes the last thing any woman wants to do when PMS hits is head to the gym. You have cramps, you feel bloated, your stomach may be a bit upset, and your back hurts, so who wants to put on sneakers and go for a run?

Finding the motivation to be active when you’re feeling unwell because of PMS symptoms can be difficult, which is why many women give into their instinct and curl up for a relaxing night in. But even though it can be hard to admit, the truth is that working out, even light exercise like walking, can help relieve cramps.

When you have cramps (dysmenorrhea) due to your period, it’s because your hormones are more elevated than usual, causing your uterus and intestinal walls to contract. Having cramps before or during your period is normal. Other PMS symptoms women experience include bloating, nausea, upset stomach, back pain, fatigue, tender breasts, food cravings, headaches and difficulty sleeping, the last of which may be due in part to your other symptoms.

Fortunately, there are options to help relieve most PMS symptoms. Most doctors recommend taking over-the-counter pain medication to help ease aches or applying gentle heat to areas that bother you during your period. Additionally, another option that has proven successfully is to exercise. When you work out, your circulation increases, and this can ease the pain caused by cramps. Exercise is also an excellent way to relieve stress, which can worsen PMS symptoms.

If you are considering using exercise as a way to relieve cramps, please keep in mind that the workout routine does not need to be intense to push through your period pain. Light exercise such as yoga, walking, cycling, or swimming are all good examples of an effective workout to relieve cramps.

Here are some additional tips to relieve cramps and other PMS symptoms:

  • Eat well: The days before and during your period are often a “binge time”. Try not to indulge in any junk food habits you may have, and instead eat nutritious, well-balanced foods. You will feel much better after having a balanced dinner than you would eating junk food.
  • Talk to your doctor: If your period pain is so severe you have to cancel plans or miss school/work then you should discuss your symptoms with your PGOMG provider who can advise whether an underlying condition like endometriosis or uterine fibroids is present.