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Best PCOS Exercise According to a Registered Dietitian

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common health condition experienced by 10% of women of reproductive age. PCOS can also lead to other serious health challenges, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mental health conditions.

Along with nutrition, exercise plays a huge role in PCOS management. I am a Registered Dietitian and these are my tips for the best exercise for PCOS. This article will discuss the importance of exercise for PCOS and will go over some PCOS-friendly workouts you can start implementing today.

young women doing yoga at home while following a video

Why is exercise for PCOS important?

Regular and varied PCOS exercise can help with insulin resistance, metabolism, menstruation, ovulation, and reduce the risk of complications such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


Women with PCOS also often have a harder time losing weight due to high levels of insulin, which promotes fat storage. In PCOS, hunger-promoting hormone levels are also higher, leading to cravings and overeating. In PCOS, weight loss exercise can help support your metabolic health and weight loss goals.


Additionally, and arguably just as important, exercise has been shown to help with well-being, psychological health, and mood in PCOS. Depression and anxiety are surprisingly common in this condition, and exercise for PCOS plays a role in preventing and managing mental health issues.


How often should you exercise if you have PCOS?

Guidelines for PCOS suggest at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week. For maximum benefit, these 150 minutes should be spread out throughout the week. This works out to at least 20 minutes of exercise daily if you have PCOS.


In addition, two non-consecutive days of resistance, or weight, training should be a part of your routine.


This minimum amount has been shown to improve metabolic and reproductive symptoms and support well-being. Keep in mind that these guidelines are flexible, and even a short walk around the neighbourhood is better than nothing!


What is the best exercise for PCOS?

Studies and reviews have found that any type of exercise helps in PCOS, such as cardio, resistance, HIIT, and callisthenics. Overall, no one type of exercise is the most beneficial to women with PCOS.


The message from the research is to find a type of exercise that works for YOU. Exercise should be enjoyable and be something you can do often.


To inspire you, here are some of the best workouts for PCOS:

women going for a run in the forest on a beautiful summer day.

Cardio

Brisk walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming are fantastic for PCOS. Cardio improves insulin resistance, which reduces your risk of heart disease and diabetes.


Doing a consistent 30 minutes of cardio per day can also support you in weight loss. And you get bonus mental health points if you take your cardio outside!


Strength Training

Strength training increases your metabolic rate and helps to build muscle. Recall that the guidelines recommend two days of strength training per week on non-consecutive days.


If you’re new to strength training, bodyweight exercises like squats, push ups, and plank make a great PCOS workout at home. If you’re a gym goer, hip dips, hip thrusts, bicep curls, and deadlifts are some fan favourites.


HIIT

High intensity interval training (HIIT) has been shown to be a beneficial exercise strategy in PCOS. Interval exercise is amazing for increasing your heart rate and cardiovascular fitness.


Try HIIT by running for 30 seconds followed by walking for 30 seconds and repeating to reach 10 minutes.


Home workouts

If you don’t have access to a gym, don’t let that stop you! PCOS exercise at home is certainly an option.


Yoga with Adriene, MadFit, and Heather Robertson are great home workout instructors to try. If you have any other favourites, leave a comment below!

two women completing weight training exercises

PCOS Workout Plan

Looking for a customized PCOS workout plan? Here are some examples of 20-minute PCOS workouts to try:

  • 20-minute interval walk/run: Warm up with a brisk 5-minute walk. Follow that with 30 seconds of running, and 30 seconds of walking. Repeat 10 times. Cool down with a 5-minute walk.

  • Cycle for 10 minutes on a spin bike at moderate intensity. Follow with 10 minutes of strength exercises (squats, push ups, plank).

  • Put on a 20-minute workout class on YouTube.


What is the best exercise for PCOS?

The best exercise for PCOS is the one that you enjoy and will actually do consistently!


What is the best PCOS weight loss exercise?

Evidence shows that for modest weight loss, a minimum of 250 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise is required (this is 100 minutes more than the normal guidelines). The type of exercise you perform is up to you, but you should include muscle-strengthening activities at least two days per week.


What is the worst exercise for PCOS?

No one form of exercise is bad for PCOS unless it causes injury or harm to you or someone else.


Where can I find PCOS friendly workouts?

Book with me and I’ll be happy to provide you with several customized PCOS friendly workouts and lifestyle advice.

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