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How Women with Endometriosis Can Stay on Track with Exercise

How Women with Endometriosis Can Stay on Track with Exercise

Learn how those with endometriosis can stay on track with exercise, which may help reduce pain and stress.

If you are living with with endometriosis—like an estimated 176 million women worldwide are—then it’s safe to say finding relief and ways of coping are of upmost importance. Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, causing swelling, inflammation, and sometimes, severe pelvic pain. Research suggests exercise may help manage endometriosis-related pain and stress. Of course, being told that working out helps relieve endometriosis is one thing, but living through the cramps, heavy periods, and lower back pain is another story. Below are 5 ways endometriosis patients can stay on track with exercise, even when it seems near impossible.

Be consistent
It’s more important to be consistent in your workouts than to push yourself hard for a month and then stop going for 2 weeks. Consistency builds up momentum and habit, allowing you to get into the daily routine of working out and moving your body. Even on difficult days when endometriosis is keeping you down, 5 to 10 minutes of exercising may help ease the pain.

Create achievable goals
Working out, like most things in life, takes dedication and perseverance. It’s difficult to go from never working out to exercising routinely 4 to 5 times a week, but building a healthy habit requires time and effort. That’s why it’s important to create goals that are achievable and realistic for you and your body. Some women start with 5-minute daily stretching routines, some with 10 to 15 minutes of moderate intensity training, and others set a goal to run 2 miles by the end of the month without stopping. By setting achievable goals, you will stay motivated and result-driven.

Make up a schedule
An exercise schedule allows you to note progress, switch up your workouts, and stay on track. With a weekly schedule, for example, you have a plan for the days ahead and know what you’re doing with each workout—be it cycling, running, weightlifting, etc. So, when you show up at the gym, you’re focused and determined, not walking around aimlessly, trying to figure out which machines to use.

Find the right environment
Are you more comfortable working out alone or with friends? Do you need a personal trainer to get started or will you figure it out as you go? Do you prefer to exercise indoors or outdoors? A typical gym with machines, barbells, and treadmills may not be the best for everyone and it’s important that you feel safe, comfortable, and motivated when in that type of environment. If you’re more comfortable with friends, get them inspired and work out together. Many gyms offer group fitness classes like yoga, tai chi, power training, and interval circuits, as well as designated outdoor exercise areas, and hirable personal trainers.

Find the right type of training
The type of training you envision yourself doing has a lot to do with your goals. If walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes a day doesn’t appeal to you, try yoga, cardio and strength training, or martial arts—just make sure to check with your healthcare provider first.

Working out should be challenging, focused, and enjoyable. For women with endometriosis, exercising may help cope with stress, reduce pain, and act as a distraction from endometriosis. On those days when doing a full workout seems near impossible because the pain is so bad, you may still find it helpful to get your body moving—even if it’s for 5 minutes at a time. If you’re thinking of starting or switching up your workout regimen, talk with your healthcare provider, who can recommend different types of exercises that fit you and your body best.

Medically reviewed in July 2019.

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