PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, which is caused by a reproductive hormone imbalance, can lead to issues like infertility, weight gain and the development of painful ovarian cysts. But regular workouts can be a powerful tool for managing your symptoms.
Here's a look at why exercise is so beneficial for PCOS, the best workouts to try (and whether there are any you need to avoid) and how to get started with an exercise program — even if you're a fitness newbie.
I suffer from PCOS, can exercise help?
Not only can regular exercise help PCOS, but experts also agree it's one of the best ways to protect your health and feel your best. Here are some of the ways exercise can be helpful if you have PCOS.
Exercise May Ease Symptoms
"Exercise improves virtually everything," says ob-gyn Felice Gersh, MD, founder and director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine and author of PCOS SOS Fertility Fast Track — and that includes PCOS symptoms, she notes. "It improves sleep, mood, energy, digestion and self-esteem."
Research backs this up. For people with PCOS, regular physical activity improves physical functioning, overall health, social functioning and mental health, per a February 2019 review of 27 studies published in the journal Systematic Reviews.
Regular, smart and adequate exercise has many benefits for all populations, some of these benefits are:
It Can Help You Manage Your Blood Sugar
Exercise Promotes Weight Loss
It May Improves Your Mood
But, Are There Any Downsides?
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to manage your PCOS symptoms, especially when used as part of a weight-loss program. So there's no reason why you shouldn't do it. That said, it's worth taking extra care when you're first starting out, especially if you want to use a few pounds or haven't been active for a while. If you have PCOS, you may experience a higher incidence of injuries and fatigue.
The key is easing into exercise gradually and doing what feels best for your body. Some mild soreness and fatigue is normal after exercising, but if the pain is severe or doesn't get better with time or you start to feel seriously worn out, those are signs to back off and talk to a health care professional
The Best Workouts for PCOS — and How to Get Started
There's no single exercise that's best for PCOS. Ultimately, your goal should be to find activities that you enjoy and can do on a regular basis — aiming to get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, according to the physical activity guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Service (HHS).
General activity guidelines are a good place to start if you're getting into exercise. Aim to get a mix of the following activities, per the HHS physical activity guidelines:
Walking, jogging, cycling, swimming and elliptical training can all be great options for people with PCOS. If you've been exercising regularly and want to crank things up, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be a good choice.
People with PCOS who underwent a 10-week HIIT program improved their insulin resistance, lowered their body fat and increased their muscle mass, according to a small, preliminary September 2015 study in PLOS One. HIIT training is an excellent option to burn more calories in less time.
Working out with weights can yield big benefits. People with PCOS who performed resistance exercises three times a week for four months improved their hormone levels and fasting blood sugar as well as lost belly fat and gained muscle mass, per April 2016 study in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
Activities like yoga can help improve blood sugar levels, according to a September 2018 paper published in the journal Endocrinology and Metabolism. Plus, yoga is also generally beneficial to your mood; in both the short and long term, it can boost positive feelings, while decreasing the symptoms of anxiety.
Are There Any Exercises to Avoid if You Have PCOS?
PCOS itself doesn't pose a limit on the kinds of activities you can do.
Any type of exercise that fits your goals, makes you feel good and that you like to do is the exercise and workout type you should be doing. I've worked with PCOS patients who regularly do lighter exercises like yoga and others who do high-intensity workouts like CrossFit.
The rules you may want to follow:
Still, it's important to take your fitness level into consideration. If you're new to exercise, and especially if have weight to lose or joint pain, start slow.
Watch for Discomfort or Pain
You should avoid any type of activity that causes pain, numbness or dizziness while you're exercising or afterwards
Don't be afraid to scale back if you're not up to a challenging workout that day!
As your fitness improves, you can gradually up the intensity to keep things challenging. Above all, remember to be patient. If you find an activity you love and can stick with it, over time, you'll likely notice an improvement in your symptoms.
Living an active life and practising healthy habits bring along many benefits. And for life, we shuld try!
If you wold like to start an exercise routine or have a check-up to your diet, let me know! I am here to help
Take care of your body, it is the only one you have!