A woman is curled up on the ground, exercise equipment around her

How to Exercise with Endometriosis

Our society is obsessed with dieting and exercising, shaming those who are even the slightest overweight. Some of this is luckily changing as the body positivity movement is trying to take hold, but sadly, for those of us who have trouble exercising, these messages can make us feel bad.

Let’s face it: Should we really feel bad about not exercising when we’re battling daily pain and fatigue due to endometriosis? I’ve written before about how frustrated I am when people tell me I should "just do yoga" to help my symptoms. Even yoga sometimes feels too much.

So, how do we exercise even with endometriosis?

Be kind to yourself

Our bodies are going through A LOT with endometriosis. The pain isn’t imaginary - our bodies are being attacked by the invasion of endometrial cells. There will be days, weeks, or even months, when exercising is just not possible. That’s fine. The most important thing is to be kind to yourself. There’s no point in pushing yourself to the max only to be floored for the next weeks due to fatigue.

Exercise only when you can

Listen to your body and only exercise when you can. When you suffer with a chronic illness, your body doesn’t behave the way a “normal” body does. Healthy people can push themselves to exercise, punishing their bodies and forcing them to get in shape. We can’t do that, so exercise only when you have energy and you think your body can handle it.

Frequent, smaller workouts are best

If fatigue is one of the side effects of endometriosis you suffer from, it might be better to do frequent, smaller exercises rather than long, hardcore workouts. Even just going for a walk and doing some stretching exercises can be beneficial, if that’s all you can handle at the moment. Stretching helps keep you limber without stressing your body too much.

Rest and drink plenty of water

Every workout is taxing on your body, no matter how gentle. Especially when your body is already dealing with endometriosis, you need to take care to rest after exercise and drink plenty of water. It doesn’t matter if your exercise was small and gentle, you still need to practice aftercare for your body. And if you feel too tired the next day from having exercised, remember that and scale down the work out the next time you do it.

Don’t beat yourself up

There is no shame in not hitting the gym a few times a week and pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion. You don’t have to go for a 5 mile run or do a yoga class three times a week. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do any exercise for weeks on end. As I said, listen to your body and feel pride in what little exercise you can manage. You’re not lazy or fat if all you can manage is some gentle stretches in the morning. You have enough to deal with when you have endometriosis, self-hate due to lack of exercise should be furthest from your mind.

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