Exercise is a must to keep up overall fitness and health for anyone. However, exercise can greatly benefit those suffering from PCOS. One might ask, can exercise cure PCOS? Let’s find out!
What is PCOS?
PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) refers to the condition where the ovaries produce atypical levels of androgens. Women usually have small amounts of these male sex hormones in their bodies, and this excess results in the formation of numerous small cysts (fluid-filled sacs) in the ovaries. Understanding the condition can help you on your PCOS weight loss diet and exercise journey.
How PCOS Affects Your Body
There are many ways in which PCOS affects your body. They are as follows:
- The body produces excess testosterone, preventing ovulation and affecting one’s menstrual cycle.
- One might experience insulin resistance, where the body produces excess insulin to maintain blood sugar levels. This also increases testosterone production, reducing fertility and inducing irregular periods. It may also result in hirsutism or alopecia, and acne.
- PCOS could also affect mental health. One might experience anxiety, depression or body dysmorphia.
However, a lot of these symptoms can be managed with PCOS exercise at home.
How Important is Exercise for PCOS?
Insulin resistance means an increased risk of obesity and diabetes. Those with PCOS can find it hard to lose weight. Hence, the polycystic ovary syndrome - physical exercise correlation is significant. Those with PCOS must build good habits such as good sleep, diet and PCOS exercise. Exercising will help regulate hormones and ease symptoms such as irregular periods, acne and hair growth.
It may feel daunting to begin the PCOS exercise, but things start to feel easier once you begin. The following exercises can help ease the symptoms of PCOS:
1. Create an Interval Training Session
Set up six stations, where you will exercise for 1-2 minutes each. Examples include burpees, squats, lunches, inchworms, push-ups, and skaters. Once you complete one cycle, you can restart at the first station.
Work out at maximum intensity for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. Complete eight rounds of the same till you reach 4 minutes. Examples include bicep curls, lunges, crunches, push-ups, plank, etc. You can find Tabata music tracks online.
Take a walk for 30-45 minutes every day. You can enjoy the outdoors or hop on a treadmill.
4. Aerobic Exercise
You can sign up for classes involving aerobic exercises such as Zumba, boxing, or dancing. Alternatively, you could also go swimming, hiking, running or cycling.
5. HIIT Workouts
You can join a gym and partake in HIIT workouts. If you have space at home, you could also do your workouts here. Examples of HIIT exercises include lunge jumps, high knees, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, side jackknives, etc.
6. Take a Tai Chi, Yoga or Pilates Class
Mind-body exercises are great for reducing body weight as well as mental stress. The following yoga asanas are beneficial for those with PCOS:
- Garland Pose/Malasana
- Bridge Pose/Setu Bandhasana
- Kapalbhati Pranayama
How Often Should You Exercise With PCOS?
With polycystic ovary syndrome, physical exercise is a must. It really depends on how much time can be spared for exercise. Even 30 minutes a day, thrice a week, can help to improve the metabolic and reproductive symptoms of PCOS. However, if you cannot exercise consistently, it is best to take out a little time whenever possible to work out, even if it is just for brisk walking for PCOS.
Worst Exercise for PCOS
To put it straightforwardly, there is no worst exercise for PCOS. However, the problem arises when there is overtraining or over-exercising. Overworking oneself can also result in irregular periods due to spikes in cortisol levels that affect hormone levels.
Moderation is important, and a reasonable exercise goal includes work and play. For example, some days could consist of rigorous exercise, and some days can include fun activities such as dance or yoga. Of course, this must be accompanied by a good diet that includes whole foods, no refined foods, less sugar, healthy fats and carbohydrates.
Exercise Types to Consider
If you have PCOS, then the following types of PCOS exercises can greatly benefit you:
1. Strength Training
Strength training workouts include resistance bands, weights, or one’s body weight in building muscle. This type of training helps to develop healthy bones and muscles. The increase in muscle mass helps burn more calories at rest, and maintain a healthy weight. Exercising in moderate to vigorous intensities would be best for good results. Consistency is key when it comes to strength training.
HIIT, or High-intensity interval training, refers to exercises that balance intense bursts of energy with rest intervals. HIIT exercises include mountain climbers, squat jumps, burpees, etc. These types of workouts are rigorous and highly enjoyable. HIIT will offer great improvements in insulin resistance, and this is due to an improved metabolic rate, which helps one maintain weight. Not only do HIIT exercises burn through fat, but it creates an oxygen debt in your muscles. This means, after exercising, the body still has to work towards repairing muscle tears, thereby burning more fat to gain the energy required to restore normal oxygenation levels.
3. Steady-State Cardiovascular Workouts
Another great type of PCOS exercise includes aerobic exercises. These workouts increase your heart rate to around 50 to 70 per cent of your maximum heart rate. Examples of great aerobic exercises include dancing, Zumba, walking, riding a cycle, etc. Cardiovascular exercises maintain heart health and prevent cholesterol issues, which women with PCOS tend to experience. Hence, this type of exercise can help improve insulin resistance and weight gain issues. In a week, a minimum of 120 minutes should be dedicated to cardio exercises for results to be visible.
4. Interval Training
Interval training is a repeated workout involving high-intensity exercise interspersed with moments of rest. A great example of interval training includes Tabata workouts. Yet again, consistency is essential. Therefore, to see visible results through high-intensity interval training, one must partake in at least ten weeks of exercise. Soon enough, there will be an improvement in insulin resistance and weight loss. One will notice that body composition can be greatly improved through a combination of strength training and high-intensity interval training.
5. Mind-Body Exercises
Those with PCOS may experience mental symptoms such as stress, anxiety or depression. In such cases, mind-body exercises can be greatly beneficial. This includes pilates, tai chi, and yoga. Not only do they help one maintain fitness, but it also reduces stress levels. For example, in yoga, specific hip-opening asanas promote relaxation in the pelvic region, and pranayamas help soothe and calm the mind.
PCOS Weight Loss Diet
Healthy eating is essential in maintaining your body weight. The following advice can help you in meal planning:
- Include lean proteins, such as fish, tofu or skinless chicken, in each meal.
- Use healthy fats for cooking. For example, olive oil.
- Every meal should include a vegetable such as spinach, lettuce, broccoli, etc.
- Add beans or lentils to your diet. Eat nuts as a snack.
- Opt for whole wheat or multigrain options.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Tips to Plan an Eating and Workout Plan for PCOS
The following tips can help you develop healthy food habits:
1. Well-Balanced Diet
Once you figure out which foods suit you, following a diet that will maintain your body’s homeostatic state will be easy. Moreover, you will be able to maintain your glucose levels.
2. Consistent Meal Times
Do not skip meals. This can result in a drop of blood sugar levels, further creating cravings and binge eating.
3. Healthy Foods
Go for foods that are nutrient-dense and rich in vitamins and minerals. Insulin resistance can be tackled with Vitamin D, Vitamin B, Selenium, Iodine and Magnesium.
- Poha with vegetables + glass of buttermilk
- Wheat dosa + chana dal chutney
- Vegetable oats
- Rava dosa + mint chutney
- Vegetable upma
- Brown rice idlis + coconut chutney
- Ragi pancakes.
- Brown rice + rasam/dal + curd
- Brown rice pulao + raita
- Brown rice + sprouts curry
- Dried fruits + nuts
- Roasted chana
- Whole wheat bread with almond/peanut butter
- Chapati/roti + vegetable churma
- Besan chilla
- Chapati/roti + low-fat paneer
- Salad + roti
- Bajra, moong and peas khichdi.
The best exercise tip to help one restore their ovulation cycle is to exercise regularly. Consistency can go a long way in helping manage PCOS symptoms, including anxiety and stress. Ensure that a good diet is combined with a good exercise plan.
When to Talk With a Doctor
PCOS can severely impact the quality of life. Hence, if you feel the following symptoms, you must contact a doctor right away:
- Irregular or painful periods
- Cystic acne
- Weight gain
- Excessive hair growth or hair fall
- Difficulty getting pregnant
Depending on your symptoms and severity, you can consult a gynaecologist, reproductive endocrinologist or dermatologist.
Also Read: How to Cure PCOS Permanently at Home ~ According to a Doctor
Summing Up on PCOS Exercise
If you have been experiencing the symptoms of PCOS, you must get yourself checked by a doctor. Once diagnosed, you must work towards a balanced diet and exercise, and it is also essential to maintain your stress levels.
Read on for some commonly asked questions related to PCOS.
Is Skipping Good for PCOS?
Yes, skipping is a great workout that will target all major muscle groups and bring down your insulin levels. Moreover, you can easily do it from home.
Is Zumba Good for PCOS?
Yes, it will work out your entire body, bring down your stress levels and strengthen your joints.
Can Exercise Cure PCOS?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for PCOS. But the symptoms can be managed through good sleep habits, diet and exercise.
Is Fasting Good for PCOS?
There are better ideas than fasting when it comes to managing PCOS. It is better to have consistent meals throughout the day, so the body can regulate blood sugar levels.