Exercises for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
September 19, 2021Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, is a medical condition that affects an estimated 8% to 12% of women of childbearing age and is one of the most common reasons women have difficulties conceiving. In fact, 80% of women who experience infertility from lack of ovulation have PCOS.1
Insulin resistance is to blame. But don’t despair; the condition is manageable, and with the proper physical activity, your chances of conceiving can improve.
Causes and Symptoms of PCOS
The exact cause of PCOS isn’t known, but factors considered to play a role include insulin excess, androgen excess, low-grade inflammation, and heredity.3 This disorder can cause absent or irregular and infrequent menstrual periods, increased body hair growth or scalp hair loss, acne, and difficulty becoming pregnant. PCOS can also increase your blood pressure and high blood cholesterol and worsen sleep apnea. If you are able to conceive, PCOS can increase the risk of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia.2
Women with PCOS have a higher rate of insulin resistance than women without the condition, and doctors have found a link between physical inactivity and excess body weight to insulin resistance. Here’s the good news if you suffer from PCOS: A regular exercise routine to reduce your body weight could help restore your ovulation cycles and increase your chances of becoming pregnant.
Types of Exercises
Experts agree that there is no one type of exercise that produces better results for women with PCOS, but more rigorous exercise is more likely to reduce body mass index (BMI) and insulin resistance. Whatever type of activity you choose, you don’t have to make a huge time commitment. You can get results in 30 minutes. Here are four suggestions to get you moving.
Cardio. Cardio doesn’t have to be a group class at a gym, although those are great too! You can get an aerobic workout at home by using an elliptical machine, jogging or running on a treadmill, or biking. Also, cardio doesn’t have to be done on land. Pool workouts such as water Zumba, water aerobics, or swimming laps are excellent cardio workouts that will help you lower your BMI.
Strength training. By lifting weights twice a week, you can help build muscle, which helps you burn more calories. You can use resistance bands, kettlebells, hand weights, or even your body weight with a workout like Pilates. Each of these options builds muscle and can help you maintain a healthier body weight.
HIIT. Short for high-intensity interval training, this type of workout combines short bursts of intense exercise with periods of rest or lower-intensity exercises. HIIT often incorporates a mix of aerobic and strength training. Russian twists are a great HIIT exercise. Sit on the floor with your legs extended and your heels touching the floor and rest your hands on your chest, then twist from side to side.
Core Training. Building a strong core – all the muscles in your midsection from the front, sides, and back – helps to stabilize your entire body. This is especially important for women who might be overweight. A strong core can reduce lower back pain, improve posture, and help with your overall functional fitness. Planks, situps, and fitness ball exercises are great examples of core exercises.
Remember, it is important to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise routine.
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