A new study suggests that running on a treadmill at least three times a week could help make period pain more manageable and have long-term effects on quality of life.
For this study, published in the journal Contemporary Clinical Trials, 70 women aged from 18 to 43 years participated in supervised workouts on a treadmill three times a week for four weeks, starting the day after the end of their period. They then continued with the treadmill exercise at home for six months.
All of the participants suffered from dysmenorrhea, the medical term for painful menstrual periods. A control group of women who did not follow the workout regimen were also part of the study.
The women who exercised reported feeling 6% less pain after four months, while those who went on to continue the program for six months estimated that their pain had been reduced by 22%.
Other benefits linked to the physical exercise were mentioned at the end of seven months, including a better quality of life and better performance throughout the day.
“Women who have painful periods often take steps to actively avoid exercise — after all, when you are in pain it is often the last thing that you want to partake in,” commented Leica Claydon-Mueller, Senior Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University in England, who worked on the study.
“However, this trial demonstrated that exercise significantly reduced pain for those people taking part in the program, and they also reported reduced pain levels after four and seven months,” she emphasized.
However, as this study had a small sample size, more research on a larger scale is required to establish stronger clinical proof of the benefits of treadmill exercise for period pain and, more generally, for health-related quality of life.