Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
1:00 AM 7th March 2024

Why Exercise For Women Is So Important For Mental Health And Menstruation

Image by Silvia from Pixabay
Image by Silvia from Pixabay
Mood swings, low energy levels and lack of motivation all have something in common- being the result of a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle.

When we feel happy and full of energy, this is because our brain is producing a ‘feel good chemical,’ also known as ‘dopamine.’ When a woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels are low right before their period, this can impact dopamine production.

Ahead of International Women's Day (March 8th), Rowan Cooke, Sport & Exercise Science Specialist at believes exercise for women isn’t just about the physical benefits, but also the mental aspects as well.

Rowan says:
“Being a woman can be an emotional rollercoaster, with female hormones changing four times per month, this leaves different reactions and impacts on the body.

“However, it is scientifically proven that exercise can combat these reactions. When we exercise, we feel a sudden ‘high,’ similar to a mood swing. This is down to the brain releasing a ‘feel-good chemical’ known as dopamine.

“Dopamine is a chemical messenger often known as the ‘happy hormone’ that carries signals controlling mental and emotional responses in the brain. Therefore, whenever we exercise, our brains release happy hormones.”

New research also reveals it could be even more beneficial for women than men.

A study of more than 400,000 adults ages 27-61 found that women were 24% less likely than those who do not exercise to experience death from any cause, while men were 15% less likely. Women also had a 36% reduced risk for a fatal heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular event, while men had a 14% reduced risk.

Rowan Cooke adds:
“Exercise is extremely beneficial for women for several reasons. Women find their metabolism decreases as they age, so exercise is important for promoting circulation, lowering blood pressure, and maintaining a healthy weight.

“Hormones also play a huge part in a woman's life, and many women may not know that exercise can help regulate their hormonal balance, including estrogen and progesterone levels. Being hormonally balanced can have a positive effect on menstrual health, fertility, and menopausal symptoms.

“Not only that, exercise helps to release dopamine, also known as our ‘feel good’ hormones. When dopamine is released, it reacts in areas of the brain to give you feelings of pleasure, satisfaction, and motivation. We also release endorphins when we exercise, which work nicely alongside dopamine, helping with pain control and mood stabilisation.

“The best way to increase dopamine levels is by exercising regularly with low-impact workouts.”

Below, Rowan highlights the four best exercises women should do regularly to keep dopamine levels boosted and combat any physical or mental challenges.


Walking is a great way to increase dopamine levels, especially in an area with enjoyable scenery and nice weather.

Taking different scenic routes every day can also help to increase dopamine levels, keeping the brain stimulated.

Especially for those working from home, taking at anytime during your working day is beneficial.

Try to walk in the sunlight if you can because when your skin absorbs sunlight and produces vitamin D, this cycle can promote the production of dopamine and serotonin.

Walking at a good pace, around 100-150 minutes per week, is recommended. You can also add some music to your walk to increase dopamine levels.


Yoga is another exercise which is excellent for boosting dopamine levels.

Whilst the practice of yoga is focused on relaxation techniques and stretching certain parts of the body that aren’t normally stretched, yoga can also boost dopamine levels by increasing cardiorespiratory output.

These breathing exercises boost mood and enhance communication between the brain and nervous system.

Weight lifting

Weight lifting is also a great mood booster because of the feeling of achievement and motivation as a result.

As you start lifting light and become stronger and increase your weight, dopamine levels will kick in due to a sense of achievement.

Try to lift weights three to four times per week, with essential rest days in between and the target of slightly increasing your weights every two to three weeks.


Whilst it can be seen as a higher-intensity sport, swimming is great for boosting dopamine. This is because it can increase the number of certain neurotransmitters in your brain. Particularly immersing yourself in cold water, which stimulates instant endorphins due to the extreme temperature.

If cold plunges aren’t for you, around 30 minutes of swimming in water at room temperature is a significant stimulus for endorphins and dopamine release.