Exercising and staying active are one of the best things you can do to manage your PCOS symptoms and improve overall health. However, the goal of PCOS exercise is not to exhaust your body or to try and burn off the extra calories you had over the weekend. Working out is a way to build a strong foundation to keep your body and mind fit.
Here are some things to remember when performing PCOS exercises:
- Follow a customized plan
What works for one person, most certainly won’t work for someone else because of our different body composition, hormonal makeup, and lifestyle. Your workout should be personalized to your symptoms and concerns – so following generic exercise plans may not show results. With PCOS, you need to consistently track your progress and make changes to your diet and exercise plan to avoid plateauing. PCOS-specific workouts usually have slow weighted workouts that can help manage hormonal imbalances. Instead of following random workout videos that claim you can lose belly fat in 1 week, focus on sustainable workouts that you actually enjoy performing and consult a doctor or a trainer for the kind of workouts that are best for your PCOS.
- Don’t focus on only cardio
Doing cardio is a great way to keep yourself active and get moving. But doing only cardio will not help you progress or help build more lean muscle mass. Adding strength training to your routine can help build muscle and is a proven method of managing insulin resistance, belly fat, and obesity. Balance your workouts with a good mix of cardio and strength to see overall improvement in your health and PCOS. Performing strength training for both upper and lower body can help build overall strength and lean muscle mass. You can perform strength training either by using your own bodyweight, resistance bands or weights.
- Overexercising is not the answer
Exercise does help burn calories – but overexercising is not a way to compensate for eating unhealthy neither is exercise alone a sustainable way to lose weight. Overexercising or doing vigorous exercises like HIIT can act as a chronic stressor and increase your cortisol levels (briefly) which can worsen your PCOS symptoms. So if you feel exhausted after a workout or haven’t seen any change in your symptoms, try performing a slow, weighted workout and/or consult a professional for a proper plan.
Start small and progress slowly – this helps your body adjust to the increasing demands and prevents the risk of injury and burnout. A healthy diet is not the enemy and exercise is not a punishment – so keeping a balance between both will help you stay consistent in the long run.
- Nutrition goes hand-in-hand
When you work out, your body goes through some wear and tear – to replenish your body with enough nutrients to help it repair and build, you need to nourish your body with a healthy diet. Usually, post-workout, a high-protein snack is recommended to start the recovery process. Even what you eat before or during the workout also matters. If your workout lasts longer than 60 minutes, a small snack like an energy bar, electrolyte drinks, or a banana can help maintain energy levels. With PCOS, a balanced diet that is rich in complex carbs, protein, healthy fats, and dietary is important to maintain your hormone levels. Limit intake of processed and packaged foods and include more sources of whole foods.
- Consistency is everything
Without consistency, you won’t see long-term results. No matter what the exercise is or how long you do it – staying consistent is key. If you have been sedentary for a while, moving throughout the day or even going for 30 mins of the walk can make a difference to your PCOS symptoms as well as your health. PCOS can take anywhere from 9 to 12 months to show improvements – so building healthy sustainable habits for nutrition as well as exercise go a long way in managing the symptoms.
PCOS exercise can help you improve many symptoms such as insulin resistance, and irregular periods, aid in weight loss, and improve mood. And following a healthy lifestyle is the most effective and sustainable way to manage PCOS, without having to depend on medications. When you visualize good nutrition and physical activity as a way of life, instead of your duty – you automatically develop behaviors that support a healthy lifestyle.
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