runWhen you think of a time in your cycle when you’re most active–meaning, you’re running around doing stuff either in your own home or out in the world–you’d probably point to the days when your energy is naturally high. This would be Week 2 of your cycle–the week leading up to and including ovulation–which is when peaking estrogen makes your pep and stamina peak, too.

But, a study all the way back from 1946 in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine shows there are actually two times during your cycle when your activity spikes. One is your Week 2 when your energy peaks. And, can you guess when the second one is? Here’s a hint: It’s a time when you’d think all you’d want to do is flop down on the couch with a pint of Chunky Monkey and the TV remote or a good book.

Yep, it’s your premenstrual week.

Researchers followed the activity levels of 10 women between the ages of 22 and 36 for five consecutive months. What they found was that the study participants experienced a flurry of activity around ovulation–and that most of this activity was accompanied by feelings of “elation”.

The women then experienced a second flurry of activity occurring right before menstruation–but this was usually accompanied by irritability, tension or depression.

Researcher Daniel M. T. Fessler, Ph.D., theorizes that this mid-cycle joy-filled activity comes from a desire for women to “stretch their legs” around ovulation, being pushed by their high hormones to explore the world and meet new people to seek out an appropriate mate during this fertile phase.

And, when you think about it, having your hormones pair wanderlust with high energy and positivity would be the perfect combination for motivating you to get out of the house and helping you deal with the potential challenges of new environments and strangers. After all, why stay home when there’s the possibility of fun and adventures to be had outside your front door. No wonder research shows we tend to go to parties, travel, socialize and do other enjoyable activities more often during our ovulatory phase.

Fessler then points out that during the premenstrual week–when you experience a second burst of activity in your cycle–research shows that most of this activity is done indoors focused on housecleaning. This might be our hormones’ way of getting us to feather our nest in preparation for an impending pregnancy.

And, again, it seems like our hormones are perfectly aligning our mood with the type of flurry of activity needed for the occasion. That’s because when you’re irritable, tense or depressed, you’re less likely to want to leave your home and deal with the annoyances of the world and all the people in it. So, pairing a lousy mood with a desire for activity is a pretty clever hormonal maneuver.

What’s this mean for you? Well, these bursts of activity tend to happen nonconsciously–meaning, we just spontaneously feel like going out on the town around ovulation and spontaneously feel like vacuuming during our premenstrual week. However, as you can see, we’re actually motivated to do them due to fluctuating hormones.

So, I’d recommend using this information to plan your flurry of activities according to your cycle: Since you know you’re more likely to want to “stretch your legs”, as Fessler puts it, around ovulation, then schedule trips, parties and other fun that gets you out of your home on these days. And since you know you’ll likely get an urge to clean and organize in your premenstrual week, save the vacuuming and fridge cleaning for those days rather than push yourself to try to do them on a day when you don’t really want to.

[Photo: Kat]