As a person with periods who works out regularly, you may have noticed that your energy levels, mood, and performance vary throughout the month. This is because your hormones fluctuate significantly during your menstrual cycle, affecting many aspects of your health and wellbeing. But what if you could use this knowledge to your advantage and tailor your exercise routine to match your cycle phases? This is the idea behind cycle syncing, a wellness trend that involves adapting your lifestyle habits to support your hormonal health and feel more balanced, energized, and productive throughout the month.
Cycle syncing is based on the premise that different types of workouts may have different effects on your hormones, metabolism, and recovery depending on where you are in your cycle. For example, you may want to do more strength and endurance training in the first half of your cycle (follicular and ovulatory phases), when your estrogen levels are high, and you feel more motivated. You may want to do more stability and mobility training in the second half of your cycle (luteal and menstrual phases), when your progesterone levels are high, and you feel more fatigued. You may also want to rest or do gentle activities during your period, when your hormones drop, and you need to recover.
By doing this, you can optimize your performance, prevent injuries, reduce stress and inflammation, balance your blood sugar levels, improve your sleep quality and mood, enhance your fertility, and overall health. Cycle syncing is not only a wellness trend but also a performance strategy for some elite athletes who use birth control pills or period tracking apps or devices to optimize their training according to their hormonal fluctuations.
However, menstruation is still a taboo topic in sports culture that can add additional pressure to female athletes who have to deal with stigma, discrimination, lack of support, and inadequate facilities. But by being open about their experiences, athletes like British tennis player Heather Watson, Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui, and American gymnast Aly Raisman are challenging stereotypes and empowering others to embrace their cycles as a natural part of their athletic identity.
Cycle syncing can help you as an athlete by giving you more control over your body and allowing you to work with it rather than against it. It can also help you by making you more aware of your strengths and weaknesses in each phase and enabling you to adjust accordingly. It can also help you by providing you with valuable insights into your health status, potential issues, and areas for improvement.
To start cycle syncing, you need to track your cycle using a calendar or an app. One of the apps that can help you with cycle syncing is Nike Training Club. This app has partnered with leading female physiologist Stacy Sims to create NikeSync, a new workout collection for people with periods that helps them train to their menstrual cycle phases.
NikeSync gives you personalized recommendations for exercise based on where you are in your cycle, as well as tips on nutrition and recovery. It also allows you to sync up with other users who are in the same phase as yours and join them for virtual workouts or challenges. NikeSync aims to make fitness more inclusive, accessible, and enjoyable for people with periods by providing them with science-based guidance, supportive community, and fun experiences.
Cycle syncing is not just a wellness trend, but also a part of the larger FemTech consumer space that is gaining momentum in the mainstream market. FemTech refers to female-focused technology that aims to address gaps in women’s healthcare, including menstrual health, fertility, pregnancy, and menopause. According to a 2022 report from McKinsey, FemTech’s market size ranges from $500 million to $1 billion, and funding for the category reached $2.5 billion by early December 2021.
One can view cycle syncing as the nexus point between the accessibility of biometric data via tracking apps such as Apple Health, and the increased awareness around the nuances and contours of women’s health. Rachel Harris, partner at Unilever Ventures, which invested in Rael, said, “I see cycle care as part of a broader and long overdue shift in investment dollars to support brands and founders whose vision is to help women better understand their bodies. Bringing the previously taboo topic of the menstrual cycle into the open [educates] women about how this might impact [among many things] their skin, sleep, mood, sex drive and energy.”
In conclusion, cycle syncing is a way of aligning your exercise routine with your menstrual cycle phases to support your hormonal health and boost your performance and wellbeing. It can benefit both recreational exercisers and professional athletes by helping them optimize their training according to their individual needs in each phase. It can also help them break down stigma around menstruation in sports culture by celebrating their cycles. With the growing popularity of FemTech and the increasing accessibility of biometric data, cycle syncing is becoming more mainstream and empowering women to take control of their health and wellness in new and exciting ways. So why not give it a try and see how cycle syncing can transform your fitness journey?