It is a well-known fact that Pilates tones your body and increases your flexibility and core strength, but did you know that it also lowers stress-related cortisol levels and thus, helps women affected with PCOS? Just like a balanced diet is very important for controlling PCOS, exercise also plays an important role in the management of PCOS as it’s been shown in multiple studies.
In this article, we will talk about how Pilates, as a form of exercise, benefits your journey with PCOS and what other exercises you can follow to control your symptoms. In general, Pilates is a good type of exercise for PCOS as it’s associated with multiple health benefits and low levels of risks. Since regular Pilates exercise may help reduce stress and balance hormones, it can be especially beneficial for women with PCOS and managing their symptoms.
What are Pilates workouts?
Pilates is a type of workout that has been developed to improve functional movements in everyday tasks by strengthening the core and engaging the stabilizing muscles. And it has gained popularity recently amongst women with PCOS. Pilates workouts are customized with very controlled movements focused on your body’s alignment and posture and it is often recommended for rehabilitation purposes.
What are the benefits?
While other types of exercise like weight training and cardio may be more effective in burning calories or more effective in building muscle tissue, Pilates can still help you lose and manage weight in multiple different ways. It is well known that weight loss is one of the most effective strategies in reducing many of the PCOS symptoms, and apart from other important lifestyle factors, exercise is another one that plays a major role in weight management.
Even though it is mentioned before that Pilates mainly focuses on stress management and mind and body connection, it can still be challenging and make you sweat and your muscles burn. Being a customized form of exercise, Pilates offers you numerous postures that meet your needs, be it calorie burning or stress reduction. The biggest benefit of Pilates is that it helps you develop proper techniques for exercising, and strengthens your core by using the right muscle groups. This, in return, improves your performance in other activities and sports you may do.
Flexibility, mobility & posture
Pilates is often recommended for those who are recovering from a muscle pull, fracture, or any mobility issues as it is a great way to improve flexibility, mobility, balance and posture. And improving those areas improves your overall well-being and everyday functioning. It can also prevent future injuries and promote joint health.
The key to a successful outcome from Pilates is consistency and once you start progressing and seeing results, you’ll be more likely to stay consistent. Besides, regular Pilates and better posture can also help you look taller and leaner which is a great bonus. It is also one of the reasons why Pilates is so popular amongst ballerinas, gymnasts and professional dancers.
Pelvic floor strength
A group of deep muscle tissue around your pelvic area is called the pelvic floor and it has an important role in supporting internal organs such as the bladder, bowel and uterus. Women with PCOS often experience pelvic pain as one of their symptoms and they’re also at increased risk of pelvic floor dysfunction.
Most exercises that we perform are not usually effective in strengthening the deep muscle layers in the body, but Pilates is different and is a brilliant way to do it. Pilates is one of the few types of exercise that is specifically designed to target the pelvic floor and it’s also the reason why it’s a safe and effective workout choice for pregnant and postpartum women. Research has also shown that Pilates reduces menstrual pain and dysmenorrhea symptoms which is another common feature of PCOS.
Factors to Consider When Doing Pilates for PCOS Weight Loss
As mentioned before Pilates is a low-impact activity that is considered safe for most of the population, but to extract most of its benefits one needs to follow a proper technique, posture and controlled movements. This is why you should seek professional guidance at least in the initial days to prevent injuries. Fortunately, there are so many great ways to access Pilates professionals and their advice.
Types of workouts
- Cardiovascular workouts: These are hard-core workouts that will make you sweat profoundly and get your heart pumping, usually at about 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, if you are engaging in moderate exercise.
- HIIT workouts: High-intensity interval training includes things like burpees, tuck jumps and mountain climbers. A study published in the journal found that women with obesity reported greater enjoyment of HIIT exercises compared to those who engaged in continuous moderate to vigorous exercise. Enjoyment of exercise is an important factor for sticking with a routine long-term.
- Mind-body exercises: Studies show that women with PCOS have an enhanced bodily response to stress and distress, according to an article in the journal Physical Exercise for Human Health. And workouts like Pilates and yoga are of better assistance to them.
- Strength training: Strength training involves using resistance bands, weights or your body weight to build muscle. This training type can help you build healthy muscles and bones. Increasing your muscle mass could help you burn more calories at rest, helping you maintain a healthy weight.
Frequency of exercise
Often women with PCOS who also suffer from obesity are in a hurry to lose all their weight at once and in doing that they make the big mistake of overdoing everything. If you think that doing an extensive exercise routine for 3 to 4 hours a day will help you lose more weight at a rapid speed you are wrong. Exercising 30 minutes a day, three times a week, to three total hours per week can improve metabolic and reproductive symptoms associated with PCOS.
If you have chosen Pilates as your form of exercise in your PCOS journey, you also need to follow a certain diet plan along with it. Usually, it includes complex carbohydrates and lean proteins, with a little high-quality fat, before beginning your pre-pilates session, this helps sustain energy better than simple carbs or sugary things. Food tips before your Pilates session:
- A protein shake that uses fruit can be a convenient choice.
- Yogurt with fruit or a small portion of oatmeal can provide carbohydrates.
- Try to eat light beforehand, perhaps snacking on a banana or sipping on a smoothie for some carbohydrates to give you energy.
- Regardless of what you eat, nutrition experts recommend you wait two to three hours after eating before you exercise.
- Another consideration is that if you skip breakfast, or it’s been too many hours since you’ve eaten, you may run out of energy in the middle of your workout. It’s best to eat at least a light snack.
Food tips after your Pilates session:
- Try a protein-packed green smoothie after class or a light snack that includes lean protein like fish or chicken as well as carbohydrates such as whole grains.
- Your diet between workouts will depend on whether you have a goal of weight loss. Either way, eat what is best for your body. While you can use Pilates as a complement to cardiovascular exercise as part of a fat-burning workout program, health experts note that few people will lose weight from exercise alone.
- You will need to work on reducing your calorie intake overall.
- Get a good night’s sleep: If you have PCOS and you are a night owl, then it is not a good combination. It is a known fact that sleep problems can make PCOS even worse. A sound sleep at night can help you manage PCOS.
- Stick to healthy eating habits: Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses and lentils must be included in the diet. Say no to junk, oily, spicy and canned food that can give you a tough time. Try to stay hydrated by drinking enough water and avoiding sodas, colas and sweets. Hence, women diagnosed with PCOS need to take utmost care of themselves and follow the advice given by their gynecologist. Not only this, Also, dairy products can be avoided.
- Stress management: Try to de-stress by doing meditation or following your hobbies. This is because stress can worsen your PCOS. So, stay calm and composed. Meditation, journaling, mindfulness, exercise, communication with close ones and therapy in case of extreme stress.
Talk To a Doctor for a Unique Treatment Plan
If you think you might have PCOS, you need to see your doctor. And if you are diagnosed with PCOS and are planning to lose weight consult your gynaecologist about how to make lifestyle changes. If you are new to Pilates, having a fitness instructor who can help guide you is a good place to start. Also, keep in mind that diet and lifestyle changes play an important role, and Veera Health has brought all these aspects of PCOS care under one roof.
Learn More With Veera
Before attempting these exercises, you should always consult your personal trainer or fitness specialist to learn more about their nuances. Staying consistent with your workout is crucial to relieving your symptoms in the long run, so look for a workout buddy to motivate you! The entire process can be enjoyable and you can hold each other accountable.