Effect of PCOS: Improving Health with Exercise

Effect of PCOS can impact your overall health in many subtle ways. One of the best things you can do for your body apart from following a healthy diet is staying active regularly.

Posted on June 20, 2022 ·

BY Team Veera

Medically Reviewed

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Women of reproductive age with PCOS often deal with a lot of thoughts surrounding this illness – about how their bodies look, how it has changed because of the effect of PCOS, the health risks that accompany PCOS, and how there might be various challenges when you wish to start a family. These thoughts can become persistent, disrupt your quality of life, and affect the way you live immensely. But you should be assured that you can deal with these thoughts with the help of various methods and the correct understanding of your own mental health.

Understanding Mental Health and PCOS

The effect of PCOS goes way beyond its physical symptoms. PCOS can affect your mental health too. A lot of studies and surveys have conveyed that most women with PCOS experience some form of depression or anxiety, and a fair share of women experience both. Anxiety can be described as feelings of fear and distress and the intensity of these feelings can be of varying degrees. Although many people do face anxiety in their life under various circumstances, when this anxiety becomes an active part of your thoughts and affects the way you function in your daily life, it becomes a cause of alarm.

Depression has been characterised as a persistent state of sadness and loss of interest and it is so much more than a word that is often lightly thrown around amongst the masses. It steals your perspective of enjoying things and makes you feel in a state of discomfort constantly. When women are diagnosed with PCOS, they mostly experience anxiety because of the uncertainty of this chronic illness and its long-term complications. However, as the illness presents itself with symptoms affecting different parts of the body, the anxiety increases and so does the depression.

While you may have frequently been asked to do some kind of physical activity to lose weight, it should be noted that physical activity and exercising can benefit you in your overall well-being and slowly help you to regulate all the haywire symptoms of PCOS.

But—Why Should You Exercise?

Any physical activity is good and one of the best options to complement your diet and support your PCOS journey. It can reduce your symptoms with consistency and in the longer run, can reverse your hormonal imbalances and improve your fertility. Insulin resistance is one of the most common problems and complications you may face in PCOS and exercise is a great way of tackling it. Exercise can help you lose weight and increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin. It regulates the way insulin is produced and used in our body by increasing the amount of glucose our body can uptake after every meal.

Exercise – in general, has a very vital impact on your overall health because it can improve your quality of life and even prevent you from falling prey to serious health conditions. Not only does it help you take care of your symptoms in PCOS, it is also responsible for reducing the risk of long-term complications of PCOS such as heart disorders, diabetes, infertility and even mental health disorders.

However, when talking about PCOS, it is important to remember that it presents itself with multiple symptoms, and most women with PCOS may find it difficult to do a physical activity on a regular basis. Any physical activity or exercising can feel taxing and that is the truth, but with the correct mindset and right information, it is possible to include physical activity into your routine and make it enjoyable too! A lot of women with PCOS feel that exercise is a difficult chore because they set unrealistic goals for themselves and take up a fitness routine that is difficult to follow and sustain in the longer run. If you are looking for the one-stop shop, “best” PCOS exercise, it is the routine that makes you happy and something that you look forward to – everyday!

Research suggests that at least 150 minutes of good and rigorous exercise per week is good to notice subtle improvements in cardiovascular health and insulin resistance. Fitness experts also believe moderate to high impact exercises can benefit women with PCOS significantly.

So, ladies—whether it is cycling or swimming or even light jogs—ANY type of exercise can help you if you have PCOS. A few of the ones you can try are listed below!

Strength or Weight Training:

Performing strength or weight training helps increase lean muscle mass which can in turn help improve insulin resistance and aid in weight loss. The more lean muscle mass, the more calories you burn at rest. Exercises such as squats, pushups, planks, lunges work different muscles of your body and improve strength overall. You can either use your own bodyweight or use weights or resistance bands to challenge your muscles further.

Mind-Body Workout:

Exercises such as yoga and Pilates help you immensely to improve strength, flexibility and balance while benefiting overall health too. If you have PCOS and are struggling with your mood swings or mental health, it is recommended that you do these exercises to relieve your stress. Not only do these exercises burn calories, they also help you calm your symptoms and ultimately improve your overall vitals.

Cardio Activity:

Aerobic activity are exercises that are great for your heart health. This can include running, walking, cycling or even dancing. This is good to increase your overall fitness and maintain a healthy heart too. Brisk walking and jogging are great to get started with if you have PCOS and help you enjoy your physical activity too.

Our fast and furious lives may push us towards a lot of inactivity, that might include a lot of sitting and staring at the screen, so it is highly recommended to step out and find a workout that fits your requirement and helps you unwind. You can try out different combinations of the workouts and evaluate which one suits your body the most. It is always recommended that you take help from your personal or fitness trainer before attempting them so that they can guide you better about the nuances of these exercises. Being consistent with your workout is the key to relieving your symptoms in the longer run and hence, it is recommended that you look for a workout buddy to stay motivated! You can hold each other accountable and the entire process and be enjoyable.

If you have PCOS, working out consistently will definitely help you feel the positivity in your body and your overall well-being—both mentally and physically.

Disclaimer: Content on Veera is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, or as a substitute for medical advice given by a physician

Verified by Dr. Iris Lee

Fellow in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Lee is a fellow in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Pennsylvania. She completed medical school and residency training at the University of Pennsylvania as well. Her work focuses primarily on PCOS, particularly the metabolic and mental health implications. Outside of work, she enjoys baking, reading, and spending time with her husband and two puppies.

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