It's probably best to be blunt: Nope, no way, no how does exercise speed up your period. Regular old exercise is never going to make your period shorter. Sure, it's a good idea to keep working out before and during your period, but don't expect your period to end a day or two early. It's not going to happen.
Heavy Exercise Might Prevent Your Period
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You probably learned this back in sex ed, but maybe you could use a refresher: Super intense workouts -- the kind you'll be doing if you're a professional athlete -- could prevent you from having a period. If you're not a professional athlete or a long-distance runner, you probably shouldn't be working out hard enough to make this happen. Extreme weight loss over a short period can also cause your period to stop, but that's unhealthy. If you go more than three months with no period, schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN.
No Reason Not to Exercise
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Of course, regular exercise isn't going to hurt you. By all means, continue your regular routine, up to an hour, several times a week. Make a few accommodations if you're extra tired. Yoga provides a great menstrual workout. Plus, there's no harm in taking a leisurely walk or reducing the intensity of your jog. You'll get all the usual health and fitness benefits.
It Might Even Make Your Period Seem Faster
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If you keep up some semblance of your usual workout routine before and during your period, it can reduce PMS symptoms. So, even though your period will last the same amount of time, it might feel shorter because you'll feel better during it. You'll have a little more energy and a little less pain. It's no magical fix, but it's a pretty good incentive.
You Can Stop Your Period
Nowadays, doctors think it's safe to take continual birth control hormones -- and skip the monthly bleeding altogether. It's called menstruation suppression. That's right: You have a choice. If you have severe menstrual pain and bleeding, or even if you just plain don't like your period, talk to your OB/GYN to find out if you're a good candidate.
- Shape.com: Exercise and Your Menstrual Cycle - What Your Period Means for Your Workout Schedule
- Teenshealth: Female Athlete Triad
- Scarleteen: M.I.A., or, Dude Where's My Period?
- Scarleteen: On the Rag: A Guide to Menstruation
- Scarleteen: I, Being Born Woman and Suppressed
- Mayoclinic.com: Menstrual Cycles - What's Normal, What's Not
- Mayoclinic.com: Amenorrhea
- Mayoclinic.com: Amenorrhea - Causes
- AlterNet: Imagine Never Having to Have Your Period Again? The Truth About Menstruation
- Riverside: Delaying Your Period with Birth Control Pills
- Mayoclinic.com: Menorrhagia - Heavy Menstrual Bleeding - Causes
- Mayoclinic.com: What Can You Tell Me About the Menstrual Cup?
- Mayoclinic.com: Perimenopause
- The New York Times: Migraines and the Menstrual Cycle
- Mayoclinic.com Medical Edge Newspaper Column - Many Possible Causes of Irregular Periods
- Cleveland Clinic: Menstrual Dysfunction
- Mayoclinic.com: Birth Control Pill FAQ
- Sheknows.com: 10 Tips to Prevent P.M.S. Naturally
- National Library of Medicine: Premenstrual Syndrome
- The Telegraph: Reducing the Symptoms of P.M.S.
Christina Lee began writing in 2004. Her co-authored essay is included in the edited volume, "Discipline and Punishment in Global Affairs." Lee holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and politics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Master of Arts in global affairs from American University and a Master of Arts in philosophy from Penn State University.