One of the first things you’ll likely hear after you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS is that you need to start exercising. This might feel high-pressure (as if you don’t have enough to worry about, right?), but this advice is for good reason well beyond the old numbers on the scale game.
The good news is, if the struggle to lose weight or whittle your middle makes you want to throw your scale out the window, you can take that pressure off by focusing on the other benefits of exercise. Plus, this doesn’t have to be a huge commitment in your day. You can make this work for your life AND have some fun with it. Eye on the prize, girls.
Exercise Quick Tip #1: A little at a time adds up to a lot!
Experts recommend that women with PCOS get around 90 minutes of moderate to high intensity aerobic exercise per week, and 150 minutes of exercise per week total. That sounds like a lot! Fortunately, it’s not recommended to do all of that in one session. Instead, break it up into 20-30 minute chunks 3-5 times per week to make the time fly by. As an added bonus, exercising in small, frequent bursts is better for you anyway!
Exercise Quick Tip #2: Mix it up!
Who here gets fired up about the idea of getting on a Stairmaster or exercise bike every day of the week? Nobody? Well me neither, and fortunately you don’t have to. The key to building a healthy and sustainable exercise habit is to vary the types of exercise you engage in. While the occasional cardio session on the bike or treadmill can be helpful, incorporate other fun activities such as hiking, tennis, racquetball, yoga or Pilates, aerobics or dance classes, or swimming. You’ll get leaner and stronger and you’ll have more fun!
Exercise Quick Tip #3: Exercise is about more than shedding pounds.
While research has found that regular exercise does help women with PCOS lose weight, the condition can make dramatic weight loss much more challenging, or even impossible. So what’s the point of exercising at all? Well, exercise offers a number of benefits that are even more crucial to your health and longevity. For example, studies have found that regular exercise improves insulin resistance, which helps mitigate the elevated risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes due to PCOS.
Exercise Quick Tip #4: Exercise may help with fertility.
PCOS is the leading cause of female infertility, and infertility can be extremely emotionally difficult, not to mention the high cost and potential challenge of infertility treatments! Want to know what one of the best ways to increase your chances for fertility are? Yup, you guessed it: Regular exercise! Research has found that regular exercise consistently improved ovulation frequency in women with PCOS. Time to get your sweat on!
Exercise Quick Tip #5: Don’t go overboard!
With all the benefits of exercise, especially for women with PCOS, it might be tempting to turn into a workout-a-holic. But, easy there! Anything in excess is usually bad for us, and exercise is no different. Prolonged or overly-frequent exercise raises our physiological stress levels, which means the stress hormone cortisol is released in greater quantities. This can actually lead to difficulties regulating stress over time, and can exacerbate PCOS symptoms.
Exercise Quick Tip #6: Exercise can help with sleep.
You don’t need me to tell you that PCOS and its symptoms and effects (such as depression) can wreak havoc on your sleep habits. But did you know that regular exercise not only can benefit your health in a number of important ways, such as easing depression and anxiety, improving cardiovascular fitness, and enhancing insulin resistance, as well as promoting better sleep? It’s true! Regular exercise improves both sleep quality, giving you more restful slow-wave sleep, and also increases sleep duration, so you’re more likely to sleep restfully through the night. When should you exercise? Whenever you’d like! Some people love to wake themselves with an energizing morning workout, whereas others find that exercising at night helps them relax and fall asleep. The key is to find out what’s right for your body and mind.
Exercise Quick Tip #7: Exercise is essential for stress relief and mental health.
Exercise is like a magical elixir that holds the power to help transform your health, moods, and stress level. Think that sounds too extreme? Several studies have found that regular aerobic exercise can be just as effective against depression as anti-depressant medication. But that’s not all! Although regular exercise is great, the beneficial effects can be felt immediately after just a single session. Another study found that one session of moderate exercise boosted moods and improved memory performance in both younger and older adults. If you’re struggling with PCOS, you know that managing your stress levels and moods are essential. If you’re not exercising regularly yet, you owe it to yourself to start.
Got an exercise tip to share? I’d love to hear it! Share in the comments or contact me.
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.