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Exercises for PCOD

Maitri Woman

Team Maitri

Apr 25, 2022

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a complex hormonal condition that affects one in 10 women of childbearing age.

It can manifest as missed or irregular periods, weight gain, increased acne & facial hair, scalp hair loss etc. It also causes complications like Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, pregnancy complications & fertility issues. 

Although many women may consider monthly periods as an inconvenience that they would rather avoid, but ask a woman living with PCOS, and she will tell you that it is no fun to miss her periods. This syndrome affects different aspects of life. It is physically, mentally, emotionally distressing and these women may suffer from low self-esteem and serious body image issues. 

Though the exact cause of PCOS is not known, genetic inheritance, stress and lifestyle choices are some of the possible factors. Read our article to understand the origin & treatment of PCOS.

A complex origin of the underlying disorder makes it a difficult condition to treat and a multi-dimensional approach is required to manage PCOS.

The silver lining is that the distressing symptoms of PCOS can be managed and reduced with proper diet, exercise and healthy lifestyle choices. Read our article to understand more about how to manage PCOS with natural, home remedies.

Why exercise?

  • Insulin is a hormone that promotes the uptake of glucose from your bloodstream into the cells of the body and also facilitates the metabolism of glucose in body tissues. Insulin resistance is a characteristic of PCOS. Thus, the cells in your body are unable to respond to insulin and fail to utilize the glucose in the bloodstream which ultimately leads to increased blood sugar levels. 

The CDC estimates that 50% of women with PCOS will develop diabetes or pre-diabetes before they reach the age of 40. 

Exercising helps improve insulin resistance & makes the body cells more responsive to the circulating insulin which, in turn, helps break down the glucose and enhances glucose metabolism.

  • Testosterone levels may be raised in PCOS. And this male hormone is responsible for causing acne and increased body hair. Exercise helps improve the overall hormonal environment of the body & thus also helps reduce testosterone levels. 
  • Exercise also helps to reduce the risk of diseases like cholesterol, increased blood pressure, heart disease & stroke. 
  • Finally, exercise is a great stress-buster & helps release endorphins ( Happy Hormones) that help to elevate the mood & relieve stress. Stress management forms an important part of the management of PCOS.

Since weight gain is one of the most prominent problems of PCOS, you might want to try out these exercises to help manage your symptoms better and improve your quality of life. 

Types of exercise you can indulge in

Pump the heart with some cardio 

  • Cardio exercises help to combat insulin resistance and infertility issues. 
  • The goal of this type of exercise is to make your heart pump faster, at least 50 to 70% faster than the resting maximum heart rate. You can calculate your safe maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.  
  • Jogging, running, swimming, cycling, aerobics, dancing are options that you can try. 
  • 30 minutes per day of cardio is the recommended duration. 

Strength training- How about some weights and resistance bands?

  • Using weights and resistance bands helps in building strength which increases your metabolism and aids the breakdown of glucose. 
  • Exercises like push-ups, triceps dips and squats will help to build your muscle mass and burn some calories. 
  • It is a myth that strength training will get you bulky. Women need some steroids to bulk up because we don’t produce the same amount of testosterone as men do. So, you won’t become bulky unless you add steroid intake to your diet or medications.
  • If you are able to combine cardio with strength training, that’s bonus points.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

  • This involves in bouts of intense exercise followed by a period of recovery or relaxed exercise. 
  • HIIT typically includes exercises like mountain climbers, knee-tummy jumps, jumping jacks, burpees, tuck jumps etc. 
  • This type of training is good for the heart and a bonus to deal with PCOS.

The intense workout will leave your muscles burning calories throughout the day which will keep you motivated and energized. Such intense workout can be rewarding in a short time and keeps you wanting more of it.

The good old yoga

  • The benefits of yoga are beyond just physical. It helps to calm your mind and relaxes you. When coupled with meditation it can act as a stress-buster and detoxifier. 
  • It is important to calm yourself down and reduce the stress hormone cortisol, especially with PCOS. Take the help of a professional yoga trainer to try out these poses.

After all, you do not want to hurt yourself while experimenting with new forms of exercise. There are various poses that you can try that can help you deal with PCOS.

  1. Butterfly pose. 
  2. Supta Badhakonasa.
  3. Shavasana.
  4. Padma Sadhna.
  5. Suryanamaskar.
  • These yoga poses help to strengthen your muscles, improve flexibility, protect the spine and promote happiness.
Fun Facts

Fun Fact

The roots of yoga can be traced back to India about 5000 years ago. The word yoga was first mentioned in the ancient sacred texts, the Rig Veda & Yoga was taken to the west by Swami Vivekananda. He translated Sanskrit yogic texts to English. He demonstrated Yoga at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

Key points

  • Begin with small steps. Start with 30 mins everyday and increase your duration as you progress. 
  • If you lack motivation, find activities that will motivate you to exercise. If swimming is what excites you, then so be it. If you enjoy walking alone, grab your headphones or take your dog out and go for that long walk. 
  • Exercise alone cannot work as a magic pill. You will need to have a balanced and nutritious diet and follow a healthy lifestyle as well. Check with your doctor what food works best for you.

The takeaway is that exercise can be your BFF if you are someone struggling with PCOS. Navigate through workout routines, seek the help of a trainer if needed and see what best suits your body. With consistency you will notice that regular exercise is a gamechanger to combat PCOS. 

Quick Fact

A study conducted over adolescent schoolgirls in South India showed that Yoga & exercise helped to significantly reduce the risk assessment of PCOS & associated complications.

For more information on PCOS, please check our other videos:

Maitri Woman

Team Maitri

Apr 25, 2022

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