PCOS AND NOT OVULATING REGULARLY? (PART B)
Click hear for part A. When managing PCOS to achieve better hormone balance, more regular cycles and improved fertility, not all exercise is created equal. Our bodies respond differently, depending on the type, the frequency and the intensity.
The goal of exercise in PCOS is to have our bodies better manage sugar metabolism, improve blood circulation, improve mood, regulate hormones and increase muscle mass. This in turn will regulate hormone production, improve egg quality and in many cases, improve frequency and regularity of ovulation.
PCOS responds most favorably to strength training combined with moderate intensity activity.
So let’s break it down:
Okay…so saying moderate intensity is most favorable isn’t 100% correct. PCOS does respond to high intensity activity and things like HIIT, however… from a fertility perspective, too high of intensity will mimic a fight or flight response and actually decrease blood flow to the reproductive organs (like in this study). So, if you are hoping to regulate your cycles with the intension of improving your chances of conception, cross-fit may not be the best option for you.
Your exercise should be intense enough to raise your heart rate and have you breathing harder, but not so intense that you are exhausted at the end of your workout. If you can do HIIT with that in mind then by all means, do whatever activity you enjoy and doesn’t feel like a chore.
On the flip side, too low intensity isn’t as effective either. Somewhere between 60-80% intensity is great.
Strength training. We have been bombarded with advice on ‘cardio’ exercise and its importance, that it might come as a shock to hear that strength training is more effective for PCOS than cardio alone. Strength training, stabilizes your blood sugar, helps improve insulin sensitivity, builds muscle and burns calories for longer than cardio alone.
For the record, this does not mean turning into a body builder. If you are averse or intimidate by lifting weights or to all things ‘gym’, just buy a little set of 8-10lb weights, use a tension band or even just your body weight and then do your exercises in the comfort of your own home.
Realistically, if you can do something every day, that is always best. Try to get yourself moving and your heart beating faster for at least 15-20 mins 4-7 times a week. That can include walking to work or doing some stairs on your lunch break, for days when something more structured isn’t possible.
In addition to that, include 3 days of strength training a week, alternating upper and lower body.
Most of us are pretty sedentary after dinner; usually hunkering down in front of the TV or computer before heading to bed… letting all of the food we have just eaten get ‘stored’ like a squirrel hording nuts for the winter. Try these exercises 20 mins after dinner to maximize the healthy usage of the foods you just consumed before hunkering down to finish your Netflix drama.
Post dinner Calisthenics:
Squats x 20
Push-ups x 15 (you can start with wall push-ups and work up to regular ones)
Plank 30 seconds (work up to 2 mins)
Triceps dips x 15 (this can be done against a bed, couch or chair)
Repeat 3 times