Looking for a powerful strategy for beating PMS? Start by getting off the couch when PMS gets you down. Sure, it can be tough to move when you’re hypnotized by the siren call of potato chips and chocolate, but you’ll be glad you did. Exercise boosts your energy and your mood. Salty and sugary snacks don’t.

Yes, its true the snacks feel good in the beginning, but after you’ve had 1 or 2 or 20 too many that good gives way to guilt and you actually feel worse than you did before you started. Don’t wallow in regret, try getting wet instead. Work up a sweat with a hard run, aerobics, Pilates or a spin class. All of these will give you a place to direct your energy and time to clear your mind.

Although exercise is important for overall physical and mental health throughout the month, it can be especially important if you are bothered by PMS. Regular exercise, at least 3 times a week, can reduce the bloating, nervous tension and anxiety often associated with PMS.  The endorphins released with exercise are also helpful for chasing away the premenstrual blues.

Still can’t drag yourself away from the snacks? No worries. Forgive yourself this month and make a new plan for next month. Pick an activity, enlist a friend and make a commitment to choose fitness over food when PMS has got you down.

Your activity can be anything that elevates your heart rate a bit. Try a walk, swim or maybe even a tennis game. Don’t forget to invite a friend; having someone along helps keep you accountable. Even if you are tempted to break a promise to yourself you might think twice before letting your friend down.

Begin your exercise program at least two weeks before you expect the onset of PMS. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week. Studies have shown that, done regularly, the benefits of exercise – feeling of well-being, reduction in stress, etc – last long after the workout is done. When you exercise you give your mind and body a gift that keeps on giving.

Its okay to reward yourself with a tangible gift if the intangible ones don’t sound like enough of a motivator. Choose a small reward that you earn after you reach certain milestones. For example, a new technical t-shirt after you have honored your fitness commitment for at least one month.

The goal here is to commit to useful ways of managing PMS. You don’t have to feel weepy, angry and anxious. When you exercise you may just find instead that you are in control of your feelings instead of the other way around.