READ ME: Exercise & endometriosis

When I was first diagnosed with endometriosis the first thing I did was get a personal trainer. I decided it was time to get healthy and I equated that with exercise.

Exercise is amazing and is often something I talk about with clients. But there is a reason it might not be the best thing for your endometriosis.

What people don’t often know about exercise is that it is inflammatory. There’s that word again. With endometriosis we do not want to be inviting more inflammation into our lives.

Exercise increases our stress response which can further exacerbate cortisol (stress) dysfunction. What we often forget is our bodies work like sophisticated systems and if our cortisol response is out of whack our female hormones are going to be out of whack which makes our endometriosis symptoms worse.

Cortisol is not a bad thing. It’s actually what gets your bum out of bed in the morning. What should naturally happen with cortisol is it should be really high in the morning and then gradually dip during the day until it is really low just before bed. Its this low cortisol that then allows us to get a good night of shut eye.

If our cortisol is disregulated (which it often is in women with endometriosis) we can often experience symptoms such as:

  • Finding it really difficult to get out of bed in the morning

  • Experiences a 3 o’clock slump and needing to reach for caffeine or sugar to get you through the rest of the day

  • Feeling “wired but tired” i.e finding it difficult to go to sleep but still feeling tired

  • Having weight around your middle which is really difficult to shift.

The weight around the middle one is a really difficult one cause often that is the reason we want to start to exercise when often this is what is going to make our cortisol response even worse!

So what is the alternative?

Well instead of hitting the gym for a heavy spin or H.I.I.T session focus on the following instead:

  • Focus on your nutrition first (always). Really focus on making sure you are getting in good quality protein, fats and carbohydrates at every meal (especially breakfast).

  • Keep healthy snacks on you if you do feel the need to grab a snack. Try and make sure these are a good combination of protein, fat and carbohydrates (an apple and peanut butter or houmous and some carrot sticks are a great example).

  • Focus on movement instead. Forget exercise, think movement! How can you go about getting some more movement into your day? Take the stairs instead of the lift, get off the bus one bus stop early and walk the rest of the way, walk to the shop instead of taking the car. Think of 5 ways you can incorporate movement into your day right now?

  • Think restorative exercise. Exercise does not mean you have to get a sweat on every single time. You can do pilates or yoga which are more restorative but can also work you out. Experiment with different types of exercise to see what works for you.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and it gave you some food for thought.

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exercise and endometriosis
Lauren Healy