There is limited research on the relationship between endometriosis and exercise. However, people report that exercise helps reduce endometriosis symptoms, such as chronic pelvic pain. In general, exercise may improve your endometriosis and overall health. It may also reduce your risk of developing comorbid conditions, such as diabetes and some heart problems.1
Exercising can take on many forms, from rigorous to mild. Finding the right activities for you is a personal journey and can be very different from those around you. While it can be hard to get motivated to exercise when you have pain and other symptoms of endometriosis, there are many health benefits of even light activity.
Current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that adults perform at least 2 and a half hours per week of moderate physical activity or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. Examples of moderate-intensity exercises include brisk walking, gardening, and bicycling less than 10 miles per hour. Examples of vigorous-intensity exercise include jumping rope, jogging, running, swimming laps, or uphill hiking. Activities like yoga, dancing, and water aerobics can be tailored to all needs and abilities.2,3
Exercise may reduce endometriosis symptoms
Exercise affects our body in many ways both during and afterward. Exercise improves circulation, increases energy levels, decreases stress, and causes the body to release endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals that make us feel "good" and reduce pain. Regular exercise also reduces levels of estrogen in the body. This is a hormone that is connected to the production, thickening, and breakdown of endometriosis lesions.1,4,5
Small studies have found that regular exercise may improve endometriosis on a cellular level as well as improve its symptoms. However, these studies are few in number, and several are based only on animal models. Much more research is needed to understand the relationship between exercise and how it may impact endometriosis risk and symptoms. Regardless of the nature of this relationship, exercise provides many health and wellness benefits and can improve mental and physical health.5-8
Talk to your doctor
While finding what exercises are right for you is a personal journey, it is important to check in with your doctor about your exercise plans and goals. Not all exercise types and routines are for everyone. Plus, some exercises or durations of exercise may not be safe for you, especially if you have other health conditions. Your doctor can give you an overview of what kinds of activities and routines you are safe to try. You may also want to work with a fitness trainer to ensure you are on the right track. If that is not possible, you can find many free fitness videos online.