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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS and Exercise

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common hormone condition impacting approximately
1 in 7 women. The two major hormones that are accountable PCOS related
symptoms are androgens and insulin. Those with PCOS experience psychological
symptoms such as anxiety, depression & body image. Metabolic symptoms are also present which include insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes & cardiovascular risk factors. It is important to be aware that not all women with PCOS experience these symptoms.


Long term health risks for PCOS:

  •  Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Infertility
  • Risk factors for heart disease

What are the benefits of exercise when diagnosed with PCOS?
According to evidence, positive lifestyle changes are the most successful ways to
lessen the intensity of PCOS symptoms. These include regular exercise and a
healthy diet.
Benefits of exercise for women with PCOS include:

  • Prevention of weight gain
  • Improved insulin sensitivity which reduces risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Improvements in emotional wellbeing
  • Increased energy levels and motivation
  • Improved self-confidence
  • Period regularity
  • Increased fertility
  • Increased fitness, muscle endurance and strength

What type of exercise should you be doing if you have PCOS?
It is best to do any kind of exercise that is fun as this will help with motivation and
accountability.
For best results, an exercise routine should include:

  • Aerobic exercise - Improves heart health
  • Resistance training - Builds muscle and improves strength and endurance

Women whose goal is to maintain their health and an ideal weight should aim for:

  • 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity OR 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week (Or a combination of both)
  • Include resistance training twice a week on non-consecutive days

Women whose goal is to improve their health and stimulate weight loss should aim
for:

  • 300 minutes of moderate intensity OR 150 minutes of vigorous activity per week (Or a combination of both)
  • Include resistance training twice a week on non-consecutive days


How to get started

  • Start slowly e.g., achieve 10 consecutive minutes of exercise
  • Choose activities you enjoy
  • When confident with your exercise routine, begin to include vigorous sessions

It is encouraged to be physically active on most, if not, all days for approximately 30 to 60 minutes. This can be achieved by:

  • Walking whenever possible
  • Taking the stairs
  • Parking further away from destination
  • Taking up a new sport/activity
  • Exercising with friends, family or in a group


References
Exerciseismedicine.com.au. 2022. PCOS and Exercise. [online] Available at:
<http://exerciseismedicine.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/EIM-fact-
sheet_PCOS_Professional.pdf>
Exerciseright.com.au. 2022. PCOS EXERCISE RIGHT. [online] Available at:
<https://exerciseright.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Exercise-Right-
Factsheet-Polycystic-ovary-syndrome.pdf>