Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) has affected one in every ten women of childbearing age worldwide. It mainly causes women to suffer from hormonal imbalances, resulting in irregular menstruation cycles, unhealthy weight, and infertility.
It can also increase the risk for hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart problems, and endometrial or uterine cancer. Even worse, PCOS can’t be cured. Fortunately, its symptoms can be managed.
One way to do this is through exercising. Recent research shows that workout sessions for at least 30 minutes daily, thrice a week, can improve metabolic and reproductive PCOS-related symptoms.
Experts recommend the following exercises to help manage PCOS.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) incorporates short, very-high-intensity bursts of cardio workouts followed by rest for the same period or longer. This interval training exercise can boost cardiovascular fitness faster by working harder instead of longer.
As stated, women with PCOS often have metabolic abnormalities. These are common risk factors for cardiovascular diseases (CVD), such as heart failure and stroke. That’s why improving cardiovascular fitness is a must for women with PCOS.
Another advantage of HIIT for women with PCOS is that it helps them burn fat. A study found that HIIT generates an oxygen debt to the muscles. This forces the body into excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), commonly called “afterburn.”
EPOC or afterburn means the body still burns fat even after your HIIT session. Due to this, the said study and other research also discovered that HIIT helps lower insulin resistance and promotes weight loss in women with PCOS.
However, be careful not to overdo it and restrain from rigorous HIIT. The short burst of intense activity during HIIT could increase cortisol (the stress hormone) and testosterone (the male hormone or androgen), worsening PCOS symptoms.
Another way to help increase insulin sensitivity is steady-state cardiovascular workouts. The intensity of these exercises is usually within the same range for the duration of a workout session. It’s also referred to as “moderate exercises.”
Moderate exercises include brisk walking, hiking, jogging, cycling, and swimming. Although they’re not as intense as HIIT, these activities can still reduce the risk of weight gain, CVD, and type 2 diabetes since they, as stated, can improve the body’s insulin sensitivity.
Besides reducing insulin resistance, moderate cardio can also help with weight management. They can also alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Above all, they can improve the frequency of menstrual cycles, ovulation, and reproductive success for IVF.
Strength training builds muscles through weights, resistance bands, or even body weight. It can also boost metabolism by building muscle mass and improving insulin function while burning calories.
Specifically, resistance training is found to be more effective for reducing the free androgen index (testosterone levels). Also, other basic weight exercises, such as push-ups and tricep dips, don’t only build muscle and upper body strength but also have better afterburn.
Strength training doesn’t immediately bulk you up. It only increases your muscle mass, which means burning more calories while and after exercising. Experts recommend combining resistance moves with cardio to build a leaner body, achieve a healthy BMI, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes.
Learn about the Optimal Pre-Workout Consumption Times if you plan to take protein powders to improve strength training performance. It’s best to avoid products that contain artificial ingredients. Instead, choose nutritious plant-based protein powders, such as beef, pea, collagen, or hemp.
Women with PCOS often suffer from the side effects of being above their ideal weight. Not only does it make them insecure, but it also causes them back pain and poor posture. Core training is necessary to avoid these and other injuries.
Pilates is one of the workouts that focus on core strengthening. It mainly strengthens the pelvic floor muscles that can reduce pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD), a common occurrence for women with PCOS.
It also has relaxation benefits that can enhance communication between various organs, effectively releasing hormones. The same perks can help the brain calm down and reduce cortisol levels associated with PCOS.
Women with PCOS often suffer from anxiety, stress, and depression due to their symptoms, which can also worsen other PCOS symptoms. One study also claimed that those who have PCOS and are overweight, in particular, tend to have higher mental concerns.
Pilates, yoga, tai chi, and other mind-body exercises can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. They can also help burn calories, helping to aid weight loss and reduce the risks of CVD.
Most experts recommend balancing your workouts and achieving at least 150-minute weekly exercises that can be split into a 30-min daily routine. This should only be done five days weekly with a must 2-day rest to avoid putting a physical toll on your body. Remember not to overextend yourself. Instead, be consistent with your regular light routine.