PCOS or no PCOS, we all need to exercise regularly, and yes, women with PCOS need it more than others. Due to a hormonal imbalance and insulin resistance women with PCOS tend to develop diabetes and thus gain weight which is why regular exercise is a must for them. Although losing weight sounds like something very difficult to achieve it is possible with a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. A daily routine that involves regular exercise also helps regulate the hormones and lower the testosterone levels in women with PCOS.
Understanding PCOS and Exercise
A hormonal imbalance is the major cause of PCOS so the obvious solution is to keep the hormones balanced. Exercise can help you with that by increasing endorphins while decreasing estrogen and insulin. Endorphins are also happy hormones so they lower your chances of having depression and other mental health disorders. Exercising tackles one of the biggest symptoms of PCOS and that is obesity. It also helps improve your sleep quality, you can get more restful sleep because exercise reduces the chances of snoring and sleep apnoea. A lower BMI and an active lifestyle will also keep your cholesterol levels in check and maintain your high blood pressure.
Benefits of Exercise for PCOS Management
Enhances Insulin Sensitivity
Research has shown that general exercises like cardio and strength training can boost your insulin sensitivity, reducing your risk for diabetes and other issues.
Cholesterol problems are more common in PCOS-affected women. The metabolic syndrome, which is more common in PCOS-affected individuals, can also be exacerbated by this.
When you exercise your body releases endorphins, which are hormones that foster emotions of well-being. Being a PCOS warrior the chance of you having depression increases, and these endorphins help you decrease that risk.
Sleep apnoea, snoring and discomfort during sleep are all symptoms associated with PCOS. When you exercise regularly you tire your body out to the point that you fall asleep quickly without any discomfort.
Exercise makes you lose weight which in turn balances your hormones. Getting rid of some of those additional fat deposits will help regulate your hormones and, ideally, PCOS.
Recommended Exercise Frequency
There is no fixed number of minutes or hours that everyone needs to follow because every individual has a different goal associated with exercise and weight loss. Although on average it is advisable to at least work out for 30 minutes a day, and that time might increase based on your weight loss goals. When we say exercising daily it does not mean rigorous or strenuous exercise. Some days you can just walk briskly, on other days you go to the gym, dance, run or even do household chores that involve physical activity.
How To Create an Exercise Routine
- If you are new to exercising simple workout forms like Pilates or tai chi would be the best option for your PCOS. If this is your first time practising, you may want to seek the advice of a trainer to assess your form and safety.
- Once you become comfortable exercising daily you can start strength training and core strength exercises, with proper guidance from a fitness expert, to enhance your metabolism. This will also help you build body mass, and relieve symptoms like lower back discomfort.
- Yoga is recommended to everyone willing to achieve a healthy lifestyle by almost every fitness and PCOS expert. This is a holistic approach to maintaining hormonal balance along with activities.
- Brisk walking or jogging for 30 to 45 minutes is beneficial whether you have PCOS or a weight loss goal.
- Although cardio is a great way to keep yourself active, improve heart health and lose weight, the best way to make your exercise routine holistic is to add strength training to it. Adding strength training at least 2-3x a week can help increase lean muscle mass while burning body fat
Best Types of Workouts
For PCOS, the best type of workout is the one you enjoy doing and is sustainable in the long run. For some women, slow-weighted workouts are better and for others, doing high-intensity workouts is what they prefer. The key is to see how you feel after working out. If you feel drained and exhausted with no motivation to do anything for the rest of the day, try switching out your workouts with other forms.
Walking might sound like a simple and day-to-day activity that we all do anyway so you might ask why is it listed as a form of exercise. Walking can increase your stress resilience by lowering your stress hormones, it also reduces inflammation and boosts endorphin levels in your body. Multiple studies have demonstrated that walking, especially after eating, has significant positive effects on your blood sugar levels and can help by enhancing insulin sensitivity and is one of the best exercises for PCOS sufferers. It is one of the simplest and healthiest methods of exercise that improves your general well-being. It is beneficial for PCOS warriors because it enhances insulin sensitivity and makes you lose weight.
Cardio involves many types of exercises like running, swimming, uphill trekking, rowing and cycling. Cardio exercises can be adjusted based on their intensity and how they affect your heart rate. Cardio workouts help you with enhancing your cholesterol levels, improving brain function, balancing blood sugar levels and improving sleep quality.
3. Strength training:
Strength training is mostly recommended for people who visit the gym regularly and are interested in fitness. This exercise form involves using weights, and resistance bands and concentrates on developing your muscle. The advantages of moderate strength exercise include improved blood pressure, lowered blood pressure, support for metabolic function and stronger bones.
While holding various positions, yoga comprises moderate movements that concentrate on stretching, balancing and mild toning. According to a short study on women with PCOS, those who practised yoga for an hour, three times a week, saw significant drops in their levels of free testosterone and DHEA as well as improvements in their levels of anxiety, sadness and menstrual cycle management.
5. HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training):
This is mostly recommended for fitness professionals or those who want to build muscle and abs. You need to consult your doctor before going for this workout plan as it has an impact on your heart rate. It involves short bursts of cardiac activity that are performed at an extremely high intensity and this is followed by some rest.
Monitor Your Progress and Adjust Accordingly
Ideally, you should consult with a personal trainer and your PCOS expert before beginning with a workout plan. Once you begging with the training program keep track of your progress and its impact on your PCOS symptoms. Remember that maintaining a nutritious and balanced diet is very important when you are following a rigorous exercise plan.
PCOS can lead to infertility which affects up to 40 percent of women with PCOS. Increased intake of low-fat dairy products like milk may enhance the chances you having this ovulation-related infertility. On the other hand, high-fat dairy was found to decrease this risk. Even though there is evidence that the results are not that straightforward, low-fat dairy products don’t need to harm your fertility or high-fat dairy will improve your fertility.
As mentioned before consuming dairy products may worsen your acne, which is another common symptom of PCOS that affects up to 30% of women with PCOS. While there are some studies that report an increased frequency of acne with only low-fat and fat-free milk products, other studies report that all types of dairy increased acne occurrence.
Lactose intolerance is fairly common in people these days and especially in women with PCOS so much so that up to 70 percent of the world population may have some form of lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is when your body does not agree to digest lactose, which is the main sugar found in milk products, and results in causing gas, bloating, and/or diarrohea. Women with PCOS are more likely to have leaky gut and dysbiosis than women without PCOS as they have more food sensitivities and their ur immune system overreacts to a particular food which can trigger inflammation. We find that many individuals with PCOS tend to have a sensitivity to dairy as well. Temporarily eliminating food sensitivities as part of a gut healing protocol can reduce inflammation, treat leaky gut, and rebalance gut bacteria.
What Are the Benefits of Drinking Milk?
1. Impact On Fertility
Just like its effects on insulin sensitivity, there has been a lot of research on the influence of dairy on female fertility and the results have varied significantly. One large study found that each daily serving of low-fat milk products increased the risk of ovulatory infertility by 11%, but adding one serving of whole milk reduced the risk by 50%. This difference has been attributed to high-fat milk having less impact on raising insulin-like growth factor 1 level.
2. Maintains Bone Density
Children are often advised by their pediatricians to be given milk at least once a day. This is because milk is an excellent source of calcium and phosphorus which are necessary for the development and maintenance of strong, healthy bones and teeth. These reduce the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures later in life. Milk is a major promoter of bone health. Drinking milk is a good way to get your calcium fix but the benefits of milk don’t stop there. Milk also provides protein, fortified vitamins and more.
3. Contains B Vitamins
Milk is rich in vitamin B12, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and niacin (vitamin B3) which aid the conversion of food into energy. Vitamin B12 is also needed for the formation of red blood cells and the normal functioning of the central nervous system.
4. Fortified with Other Nutrients
Other nutrients including vitamins A and D are usually added to milk. Vitamin A is key for good vision and boosts the immune system, while vitamin D improves the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
Should You Avoid Dairy If You Have PCOS?
Hate to give up your cheese entirely? You may not need to. No randomized controlled trials have examined the relationship between milk, cheese, or dairy consumption and acne. Most of the studies conducted have relied on self-reported dairy intake and focused on milk, not cheese or other dairy sources. The evidence so far points to fat-free and low-fat dairy as the most influential factors in women with PCOS.
There aren’t any formal guidelines as to how much dairy consumption to have or if it’s necessary to completely avoid dairy if you have acne or PCOS. In one study, the risk of acne increased when 3 or more servings of milk were consumed. Because of the direct influence on androgens and insulin, women with PCOS (who have acne or not) should limit their dairy intake to 2 or fewer servings each day and go for the full-fat versions.
Each person reacts to dairy differently. So if you feel dairy breaks you out or causes stomach issues – avoid it. There are plenty of non-dairy alternatives that are fortified with calcium.
What Are the Benefits of Going Dairy-Free?
Reduce Bloating Caused by Excess Gas
Experiencing lactose malabsorption causes bloating, as the fermentation process of lactose sugars that we can’t absorb produces excess gas within the colon. It’s these excess gasses that cause our bloated appearance, and the level of digestive discomfort that accompanies it.
Reduce Inflammatory Responses
Studies have determined that around 80% of our immune activity occurs around the gut and our digestive systems. Dairy has also been identified as one of the biggest immune system stressors. When we ingest foods we’re intolerant to, as we cannot produce the enzymes to absorb them, the immune system senses this and tries to flush out the offending ingredient. The immune system consists of a whole network of potential responses, from external symptoms to internal gastro-logical distress. Often, these autoimmune networks become overloaded and respond to the wrong area of the body. This can cause adverse reactions in unexpected ways.
Learn More With Veera
At Veera, we customise your diet plan to fit your lifestyle and symptoms. Our PCOS experts work closely with you to develop a plan that is personalised and takes care of your diet, exercise, sleep and stress. Book a free appointment with our experts to get started!