PCOS and Exercise: Weve already looked at the benefits of exercise and have seen that its a really important aspect to managing our PCOS. But just how much exercise do we need and what is the best type of exercise for managing our PCOS?
Before we get into that, lets recap on some of the benefits of exercise. Exercise has been shown to improve (1):
And remember, these benefits are independent of weight loss (you may not lose any weight while exercising but you will still feel the rewards of the above improvements).
To be honest, there hasnt been much research into the specific kinds of exercise that is beneficial for PCOS (or none that I could find after hours of trawling Google Scholar). There is a lot of information on exercise and PCOS as a whole but few suggestions of what kinds of exercises we should be doing. There is also a lot of research related to Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance but these articles don't specifically look at PCOS.
One particular article found that the intensity, duration and type of exercise did not have any impact on the improvements in PCOS symptoms (2). The bottom line is that any form of exercise is helpful.
One of the main ways that exercise seems to help PCOS is the way in which it helps to manage glucose and insulin. Exercise causes glucose to be taken from the blood and moved into the muscles, lowering the need for insulin at that time and improving the bodys sensitivity to insulin.
Remember that if we can manage insulin, we are better able to manage testosterone, the cause of a lot of our PCOS symptoms.
So, we know exercise is crucial, but just how much and what is the best type of exercise?
Ideally, we should be doing a combination of strength and cardio training as both of these types of exercises give us different benefits (3).
Cardio training causes your heart rate to rise and it uses energy, increasing your total calories used, which will help with weight loss. It has also been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in women with PCOS (4).
Strength training, on the other hand, builds muscle which is important in raising your basal metabolic rate so that you burn more calories while at rest and while you are exercising.
So, bottom line is that we need to do a combination of strength and cardio exercise. But how much of each?
If youre new to exercise, I wouldnt be too worried about doing 150 minutes per week. Just get started! Finding a form of exercise that you enjoy is really important in making it sustainable. Here are some fun exercises you could consider:
The options are endless really.
I have also found exercise DVDs to be really helpful and I really enjoyed Jillian Michaels (she also has PCOS, by the way) 30 Day Shred DVD. Its something you can do at home and although its quite high intensity, the workouts are roughly 20 minutes each and I found I was able to incorporate that into my day.
Whatever you do decide to take up, keep at it and make sure that you are able to stick to it!
Id love to hear about how youre managing t fit exercise into your daily routine and if you have any suggestions of good exercises or DVDs, please share them with the rest of us. Leave me a comment below, Id love to hear from you!
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PCOS and Exercise: How much and how often? | PCOS Diet Support
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