PCOS and Working Out:
Tips To Manage Symptoms

​​You're not alone if you suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS affects 6% to 12% of women during their reproductive years and is the leading cause of female infertility, according to the CDC

It can be difficult for some women to manage their PCOS symptoms. Exercise and diet are the two major positive lifestyle changes women can make to alleviate their symptoms. 

This guide will discuss how PCOS and working out can provide women with more benefits than losing weight. Read on to learn different exercise techniques you can incorporate into your daily routine to manage your PCOS symptoms. 

PCOS and Exercise Benefits 

Let's discuss some of the top benefits you can experience with exercising. From better sleep to lower cholesterol, routinely exercising will positively impact your life. 

Lowered Cholesterol 

Women suffering from PCOS typically have higher triglycerides and cholesterol. These items can contribute to other complications, such as metabolic syndrome. This syndrome is more common in those with PCOS. Regular exercise can reduce your cholesterol levels. Pair exercise with a low-fat and healthy diet. 

Increased Insulin Sensitivity 

Regular strength training and cardio exercise might help your body respond to insulin better. As your body is better equipped to respond to insulin, your risk for complications, like diabetes, is reduced. 

Increased Endorphins

Unfortunately, one of the side effects of PCOS for some women can be depression, as reported by a recent Cureus Journal of Medical Science study. As you exercise, your body will release endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that give you feelings of happiness and wellness. Endorphins can help you alleviate some side effects of depression. They can also help you with managing your stress levels. 

Hormone Regulation 

Your body feeds off fat that's stored in your body as you burn more calories than you consume. As a result, you're able to reduce your insulin levels and lose weight. 

Additionally, excess fat can affect your hormone levels, primarily your production of insulin. Reducing the amount of fat storage in your body can help get your PCOS and hormone levels under control. 

Sleep Better

You'll fall asleep faster and experience quality sleep if you exercise regularly. Women with PCOS can suffer from the following sleep problems: 

  • Insomnia 
  • Snoring
  • Sleep apnea 

Experiment with adding regular exercise to your daily routine to see if it helps your sleep patterns improve. Keep in mind that you don't want to exercise right before bed. As you get used to more activity, you'll likely feel more tired as you start your new exercise routine. 

Weight Loss

Many women start exercising to lose weight. It can be difficult for women with PCOS to lose weight, even with regular exercising and a healthy diet. Consequently, weight loss shouldn't be the main reason you start to exercise. 

It can be disheartening to embark on a new exercise routine when it's difficult to see physical results. Try to remember all the other benefits exercising will give you and how it can help you manage your PCOS

4 of the Best PCOS Workouts

Finding the best PCOS workouts depends upon your personal preferences and goals. Any exercise helps, so feel free to experiment with various ones until you find something you connect with. 

1. Strength Training for PCOS

Strength training involves a variety of methods. They include:

  • Weights
  • Resistance bands
  • Bodyweight 

Strength training can help you with building healthy bones and muscles. Increasing your body's muscle mass can also help you burn more calories while you're resting. It's also a great idea to pair strength training with cardio workouts. 

You can easily create an interval session at your local gym or one you set up at home. Set up about six stations and stay in each one for around two minutes. 

Some examples of strength training moves you can incorporate include:

  • Jumping jacks
  • Lunges
  • Squats
  • Crunches 
  • Bicep curls

2. Cardio for PCOS

Moderate cardiovascular workouts get your heart pumping, typically around 50% to 70% of your body's maximum heart rate. You can figure out your maximum heart rate by taking your age and subtracting it from 220. For example, if you're 35 years old, your maximum heart rate is 185 beats per minute (bpm). 

Cardio exercise can include:

  • Running
  • Cycling 
  • Swimming

Try to do 30 minutes of cardio exercise each day to help alleviate your PCOS symptoms. 

Swimming

Swimming is a wonderful option for those who have joint problems or previous injuries. It's a no-impact cardio workout where you can go at your own pace. Start your routine with the freestyle stroke if you're new to swimming. You can add in the backstroke or breaststroke as you get more comfortable. Make sure you rest in between each lap as needed. 

Running

If you're ready to hit the pavement, explore running outside or on a treadmill. Start your running routine slow with a light jog or brisk walk. Alternate between walking and running in minute intervals.

After you're done running, don't forget to stretch. You want to avoid future injuries at all costs. Begin with short running sessions and increase the frequency as you get stronger. 

Jump Rope 

Jump rope is another fun cardio option. Start your jump roping routine with either a set number of reps or the number of minutes you want to achieve in mind. As you continue your practice, try to increase your goal. In addition to being a great cardio workout, jumping rope can improve your hand-foot coordination, agility, and body awareness. It's recommended to jump rope for around 10 to 25 minutes two to three days a week. 

3. Aerobic Exercise for PCOS

Aerobic exercise is like cardio in that it keeps your heart rate up for an extended length of time. Many people correlate aerobics with Jane Fonda's videos from the 1980s. However, there are a lot of different forms of aerobic exercise that will benefit those with PCOS. 

Dance

If you're not a fan of traditional cardio, like running, you might want to explore dance classes. There are many cardio-based classes, such as Zumba, that incorporate dance, music, and exercising in a fun way. It's recommended to do dance-based exercising for at least one hour two to three times a week. 

 Stair Stepper

If you have a membership to your local gym, you can head over to the stair stepper. We've all experienced how difficult it can be to walk up a few flights of stairs. A stair stepper turns that everyday task into exercise. 

When on the machine, don't lean onto the handles. You'll want to stand up tall to engage your core. 

You can begin your stair-stepping session at a slower pace to get your body warmed up. Add more resistance until you find yourself stepping at a pace that's challenging. At the end of your session, slow it down for a few minutes so your body can cool down. 

 Kickboxing

Kickboxing is a wonderful way to relieve stress and get your heart rate up. The workout combines martial arts and boxing with aerobics. You'll find yourself kicking and punching your way through an invigorating workout. 

4. Benefits of Walking for PCOS

Strength training and intense cardio workouts aren't for everyone. Walking for around 30 minutes each day can help provide you with benefits. You can either walk on a treadmill or walk outside.

A great way to make walking more effective is by adding intervals to your routine. Try the below walking routine:

  • Walk at a moderate pace for five minutes
  • Briskly walk for five minutes
  • Repeat as necessary

To make a walk more challenging, you can walk on hills or change the incline on your treadmill. Alternate between hills and flat surfaces. 

Exercise for PCOS Treatment  

Sometimes people get bored with an exercise routine if they do the same workout each day. They also might get bored as they get stronger and the workouts become easier. 

Use a combination of different exercise types to keep your routine fresh. You can focus on an exercise type on a specific day of the week. That way there's some consistency to your routine without it getting stale. 

If you haven't worked out in a while, you might want to consult a private trainer. They'll help you learn how to operate the gym equipment safely. Your trainer will also work with you to create a customized exercise plan that fits your lifestyle. 

 Additionally, if exercising is new to you, you should consult a doctor. It's also good practice to speak with your healthcare professional anytime you make a major lifestyle change. If you have other health conditions, like arthritis, it can play a part in exercising. 

Learn More About PCOS and Working Out 

Now that you know how PCOS and working out can provide you with countless benefits, it's time to get started on incorporating exercise into your daily life. Choose whatever option works for you that you can easily sustain. You want to make a long-term lifestyle change. 

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