PCOS treatment: 6 Simple Exercises for PCOS

When it comes to managing PCOS, the two main factors that should be concentrated are- Diet and Exercises for PCOS. Often many people do all the necessary things required for their diet and neglect the exercise part of their lifestyle. But the thing is that there are no bad exercises. The only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen. 

 

An article published by Oxford Academic in the year 2011, says that there is no dependency of the improvements in PCOS on the type of exercise, frequency or length of the exercise sessions. . Exercise for PCOS not only helps in weight management, but can also brighten up our moods and help with other symptoms of PCOS. It doesn’t always need to be heavy or intense workouts. A simple change such as taking the stairs or walking to your office can make a huge difference in your exercise regime.

 

How does Exercise affect PCOS?

person's left hand wrapped by tape measure

PCOS, as its name suggests, includes various symptoms. It is not confined to one particular disease. Most of these symptoms can be blamed upon Insulin resistance. If insulin resistance is managed, then the hormonal imbalances and excess weight gain can also be controlled.

 

When a woman with PCOS exercises, it helps her to manage the insulin and glucose levels in her body. The continuous movement in our body helps it to move glucose. This process takes the glucose from our blood and spreads it to other parts of our body. This reduces the load of glucose management from insulin, thus increasing our body’s sensitivity towards it.

 

How much and How often to Exercise for PCOS?

person wearing orange and gray Nike shoes walking on gray concrete stairs

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends a weekly exercise of 150 minutes can do the trick. This is when you are doing moderate exercises such as brisk walking, hiking, sports etc.  However, if you are aiming for intense workouts, then 75 minutes per week is sufficient.

 

It further says that the combination of moderate and vigorous activities, spread throughout the week can also be beneficial. Further, it can be increased with time as one gets used to it.

 

It must be noted here that no exercise should stress you out. When stress happens, our body releases cortisol, which further stimulates androgens. So, if you are already stressed out from the day, skip workouts that day.It is you that matters. Listen to your body. If you body says no, don’t pressurize it.

 

Exercises for PCOS

Get a Fun start:

women dancing near mirror

If you are just beginning with the exercises, try not to exert your body. Give it a fun start. Go  for a simple walk or in the morning. Zumba and aerobic classes are also fun ways to get into exercising. Choose exercises for PCOS that make you happy and do not stress you much. Get yourself a workout buddy and enjoy it to full extent.

Cardio:

woman jogging near wire fence

Cardio is the simplest thing that you can do. Go for a morning stride, listen to some great music and lighten yourselves up while exercising. Doing this 30 minutes a day can help with PCOS by managing weight and helping with depression and anxiety. Cardio can also help with regulating menstrual flow and can manage your ovulation. Try taking breaks and make it easier by changing the pace frequently. For example, try 10 minutes of brisk walking followed by 10 minutes of jogging. This can amp up your cardio game and encourage you to continue it for a long time.

Water Exercises:

woman floating on body of water

Water sports such as swimming and water aerobics can be a fun way to do exercises. These are resistance exercises and do the  whole body workout. Try to push yourself to achieve longer laps while swimming. Enjoy yourselves in the pool and have a great workout.

 

Strength training:

woman pushing bars

Strength training is a great way for reducing Insulin resistance and boosting metabolism. Exercises such as squats, push-ups and tricep dips can increase the flow of glucose to other parts of our body. Thus reducing the work of Insulin. Try to combine these exercises with cardio. Both balances your whole workouts and helps in reducing various symptoms of  PCOS.

 

Take up a Sport:

pair of red badminton rackets

If you are not a big exercise person, make exercising your own. Choose a sport for yourself and practice it regularly. It can be anything, even a daily game of badminton in your courtyard can be a game changer (pun intended ;D). Basketball, tennis, cricket or even kabaddi can help you to take the stress out and refresh your body.

 

Meditation and Yoga:

person doing yoga on floor

If you reduce stress in your body, then the release of androgen is reduced to a large extent. And nothing soothes you more than a perfect balance of meditation and yoga. Include the following aasanas in your exercise regime:

  1. Butterfly Pose
  2. Supta Badhakonasana
  3. Bharadvajasana
  4. Chakki Chalanasana
  5. Shavasana
  6. Padma Sadhana
  7. Sun Salutation

Remember to relax while doing these poses. The main aim to decrease PCOS symptoms is to reduce your stress. Co-ordinate you breathing along with the aasanas to ensure best results.

PCOS: Simple Ways To Treat It At Home.

PCOS is the most common endocrine condition that happens to women. Insulin resistance, genetics and hormonal imbalance are the main reasons for the condition. There is no one solution to PCOS. However, making changes in one’s diet and lifestyle can make a huge impact in managing PCOS.

 

How Diet affects PCOS?

 

Diet has a significant role in managing PCOS. The two main parts where diet plays the key factor is –

  • Weight management
  • Insulin resistance

A study shows that almost 50% of women with PCOS have insulin resistance. The rise of insulin levels in our body is due to the increase of glucose. This can happen due to various reasons like overeating, eating junks and sugar etc.  By treating insulin resistance, PCOS can be handled to a large extent.

 

 

 

Diet Changes to Manage PCOS

A woman suffering from PCOS has insulin levels already spiked up. The least she could do is to not increase it. Removing all those food items that are responsible for the insulin spikes can be a start. Later replacing it with healthier options can do the charm.

 

Replace and Remove

 

  • Refined carbs:

 

four sliced breads on plate

 

Simple carbohydrates are the main culprits in increasing the glucose levels in our body. So, the first step in the management of PCOS is to reduce the carbohydrate intake. But the sad part is that most portions of our diet is filled with carbohydrate rich foods such as white rice, maida, white bread and potato. These can be easily broken down into glucose in our body, leading to higher insulin levels.

 

  • Processed foods:

 

burger and fries in box

 

The mass produced processed foods harm our body to a very large extent. To add flavors, they contain added sugar in it, which must be a complete no for women with PCOS. Avoid those burgers, pizzas, and especially sugary cold drinks. They can easily increase your blood sugar level.

 

  •  Dairy Intake:

 

photo of milk bottle lot

 

We usually hear from our parents, about the goodness of the milk. But they forget the fact that today’s milk is not the same as they think. The milk that we get in our homes, goes through many processes such as pasteurization, homogenization, and is even added with pesticides. The intake of milk for women with PCOS acts as an androgen increasing food. So, it is advisable to reduce the dairy intake for stopping the hormonal imbalances in our body.

 

Increase and Include

 

  • Complex Carbohydrate:

 

 

If you think all carbs are bad. Think again? Our body needs carbohydrates, just not refined and simple carbs. Complex carbs like whole grains and sweet potatoes are actually good for our body. They don’t break down easily into glucose and provide energy for a longer time. Start by replacing your rice with rotis and maida with atta.

 

  • Fiber:

 

assorted variety of fruits

 

Fiber rich foods are the best option to reduce insulin resistance. This reduces digestion in our body, which inturn reduces the sugar levels. Fiber also makes us feel full easily. This makes us eat less and helps us to lose weight.

 

Some fiber rich foods:

 

Fruits                  :  Apple, oranges, strawberries, guava, pears 

Vegetables         :  Spinach, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Peas, beetroot

Legumes            :  Lentils, chickpeas, soybeans and kidney beans

Nuts and seeds  :  Almonds, flaxseeds and sunflower seeds

 

  • Protein:

 

flat-lay photography of assorted-variety of stir fried and vegetable foods

 

Just like fibers, eating fibers also make you feel full easily. Thus helping you to lose weight.

 

Protein rich foods:

 

Omega-3 rich foods such as Fish and Almonds.

Legumes, soy, nuts and seeds.

 

  • Antioxidant rich foods:

 

tray of food on white surface

 

Inflammation is one other problem that comes along with PCOS. Inflammation can be troublesome for our gut and digestive system. Foods rich in antioxidants can help with inflammation.

 

Foods rich in antioxidants:

 

Fruits                    : Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries.

Vegetables           : Spinach, artichokes, kale.

Whole Grains       : Whole oats, whole wheat, quinoa, brown rice.

Unsaturated fats  : Nuts like pecans and nut butters, olive oil, avocado. 

 

Conclusion

 

A balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle is a simple solution for reducing PCOS symptoms. This helps in reducing the glucose levels, further reducing the insulin resistance in our body. 

 

Remember the two golden rules to manage PCOS:

  1. Lose fat.
  2. Be mindful of what you eat.

 

Stop ignoring the signs that your body is giving you about PCOS. Start acting on it immediately before it’s late. Because if you ignore it for a long time, it can lead  to much more problematic complications.

Overeating and PCOS: The Cause and the Disease.

Overeating and Insulin resistance

 

There is no one reason that can be said as the cause of PCOS. But there are few habits that we develop that will for sure trigger and exceed the already existing PCOS in our body. One of them is Overeating.

Consider each individual cells in our body as little houses. These little houses function when we provide them with fuel as food.  The food which is converted into glucose is absorbed by our cells in order to attain energy. But excess of a good thing can cause havoc even in the little cell houses. When we overeat, it causes problems in the happy-go-lucky cell homes. The intake of glucose becomes difficult.

When a person overeats, it’s as if there has been a permanent lock in our cell houses for the intake of glucose. The work of insulin in our body is to open the cell house doors for the glucose to enter. But due to overeating, the glucose level rises in our body. It is thus very important to control our habit of overeating to manage insulin resistance and PCOS.

 

 

 

Now, since glucose has nowhere to go, it stays in the carrier itself. This leads to the assimilation of glucose in our blood rather than our cells. 

 

But the insulin still keeps trying. Our pancreas sees that there has been an increase in the blood sugar level. So, it tries to compensate it by producing more insulin. This excess production of insulin in our body is Hyperinsulinemia.

 

Hyperinsulinemia and PCOS

 

 

The excess production of Insulin or Hyperinsulinemia, is one of the reasons for the production of excess male hormones. These male hormones or androgens are the cause of PCOS.

 

Thee androgens are the reason for excess body hair, specifically facial hair, balding, acne, decreased breast size, deepening of the voice or increased muscle mass.

  

Not only this, high insulin, can even impair ovulation, leading to infertility in women. Thickening and darkening of the skin on the back of the neck, under the arms, and groin area, are also caused by this, which are the symptoms of PCOS.

 

Women with PCOS over-produce insulin in an attempt to maintain a normal blood sugar level, and this frequently leads to more androgen productions and weight gain.

 

So, even though we feel that we are having just one extra bite, overeating can have serious consequences.

 

It is thus very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep a check on our food habits. Because every time you make a wrong choice, you create a big mess in those little cell houses.

 

Overeating and Binge Eating disorder

 

Eating more food than what is needed for our body is called as Overeating. Our body spends a particular amount of energy and stores the rest in the form of fat in our body. Thus when a person overeats, he has too much excess after spending the energy required. All of which is settled in our body in form of fatty tissues.

Binge eating Disorder or BED is another eating disorder that is similar to overeating. However it is the most common eating disorder that was recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. A person with BED finds it very difficult to stop eating while binges. It may also take a toll on their mental health by causing depression and anxiety.

 

Symptoms of Overeating

 

person holding burger

 

  • You are not able to stop eating. You continue to eat even though you know its bad.
  • Eating very fast, eating until you are extremely full, eating even though you are not hungry, feeling depressed or sad after eating are some of the common symptoms.
  • Depression or mood swings. Eating disorders affects mental health adversely. Thus, it is common to have depression and anxiety if you binge-eat.
  • Excess weight gain in a short period of time.
  • Eating to feel better about any problems or embarrassment.

 

Ways to reduce Overeating

 

woman in black top

 

  • Eat every 3-4 hours, but in small quantity.
  • Reduce Carbs and increase protein and fiber intake. Protein and fiber makes you feel full faster. This helps you to reduce your food intake.
  • Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep may make you feel tired, which is compensated by overeating.
  • Get your insulin levels and diabetes checked. This can help you to know about your condition and act upon it.
  • Remember that you cannot change a habit of yours overnight. It takes time. Don’t pressurize yourself. Take small steps each day and soon you’ll be able to see a whole lot of difference.

 

Click here to know about the work of insulin in our body and more about Insulin resistance

Insulin Resistance and PCOS: How are they connected?

“The pain of PCOS is invisible, most people don’t understand it. And the hardest battles are those which we fight against the unseen”.  This was written in a gynecologist’s office, and is true in every sense. Many people don’t even know the cause for PCOS. Some blame it on insulin resistance, some on obesity or overeating and some on genetics. 

Insulin Resistance and PCOS

 

Today every 1 in 5 women suffers from PCOS, and sadly many even don’t recognise it. They fight this unseen battle without the basic knowledge of it. The number of problems and symptoms due to PCOS is extremely high. PCOS messes up women’s hormones and this imbalance in hormones have a drastic effect on health and appearance of a person.

What is PCOS?

PCOS , Insulin resistance

PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is a condition that affect women’s hormone levels, producing excess amount of androgens, a group of male sex hormones. 

It is normal for every woman to produce some amount of it in her body. But in women with PCOS the production of these hormones increases manifold leading to problems such as acne, abnormal hair growth, like facial hair or male pattern baldness. Infertility and irregular periods are another set of issues that come along with PCOS. 

Many research [1] [2] proves that the production of these excess male hormones is due to Insulin resistance. Over 60% of women suffering from PCOS are insulin resistant. Insulin resistance causes many of the symptoms of PCOS and hormonal imbalance. 

 

What is Insulin Resistance?

 

insulin resistance

Insulin is a hormone produced in our pancreas which allows the cells to absorb or use glucose. When insulin resistance happens, our body stops responding to this insulin. 

Resistance to any substance happens, when there is an increase in the amount of the substance. Just as an increase in dosage of antibiotics creates resistance to antibiotics, or excess consumption of alcohol makes a person resistant to it. Similarly when insulin production increases in our body, our body becomes resistant to it. 

Our body stops responding to the insulin produced in pancreas, thus causing troubles in its function.This further leads to many diseases  such as obesity, diabetes and heart diseases.

 

What does Insulin do in our body?

 

Blood, Cells, carrier, insulin resistance

One of the functions of insulin in our body is that it acts as the primary hormone that signals for energy storage into our fat cells. 

Imagine our cells as houses. Like every house, our cells also need necessary things for its functioning such as food or water. So the food that we eat is the source for our little cell houses. These foods break down into glucose and this glucose is the energy source for our cells. 

Now, the next step is to send this glucose to every cell in our body, and this is the work of blood. Our blood acts as a carrier and transports glucose to our cells.

But the requirement of every house is different right? Similarly every cell has a different need for glucose. This must be regulated in our body. The regulation of glucose is done by insulin. 

Insulin acts as key to our cell houses. It allows the necessary amount of glucose and stops its entry when the amount exceeds. Thus insulin is a very important hormone as it affects the basic unit of our body- Our cell.

How to know if you are Insulin Resistant?

Person Holding Black Tube

1. Increased Cravings and Hunger

Our body releases insulin to lower the excess glucose to a safer level. This insulin also helps our cells to absorb this glucose to gain energy. But when Insulin resistance happens, the insulin does not do its work. As a result, the glucose level increases manifold in our body, and our cells cannot absorb the glucose. This means that the food that we are eating is not being converted to energy.

2. Increased thirst and excess urination

Insulin resistance may make you feel parched all the time. This is due to the excess glucose in your body. High glucose levels forces our kidneys to get rid of the excess. Thus causing frequent urination. In order to get rid of the sugar, it pulls excess water from our body too. This sends a signal to our brain of being dehydrated. hence we feel thirsty quite often. This cycle of thirst and urination continues until the blood sugar levels are balanced. This also happens in the case of diabetes.

Diabetes and Insulin resistance are the two sides of the same coin. One follows the other. When blood sugar increases insulin resistance increases and vice-versa.

3. Weight Gain

if you feel that lately, you’ve started gaining more weight than usual, then it maybe due to insulin resistance. The increased hunger can cause you to eat more, especially load up on carbs and sugar. This can easily make you gain weight in a short period of time. The excess insulin and glucose also make your abdomen area fattier. This is because the insulin settles down in the region and increases your waist size.

4. Dark Skin Patches

Insulin resistance can also cause visible skin changes. Dark patches on the back of your neck, or on your elbows, knees, knuckles, and armpits are some of the skin problems that come with it. This usually happens when Insulin resistance is severe.

How Insulin Resistance is connected to PCOS

Insulin Resistance and PCOS have been linked by various medical professionals. Insulin is a hormone that balances the blood sugar level in our body. When this does not happen during insulin resistance, both insulin and glucose level spikes up. High insulin has its own fatalities, such as increasing deposition of fat in the belly region as insulin is a fat-storage hormone. Secondly, insulin also triggers the release of excess androgens, and increases the symptoms of PCOS. 

 

Although not all women with PCOS suffer from Insulin resistance, it for sure is one of the leading causes for PCOS. This is why many studies say that women with PCOS must be first treated for insulin resistance.

 

Exercises for Insulin Resistance:

 

Insulin resistance can be managed to a great extent through exercise. This is because when a person exercises, our body tries to use up the excess glucose in our body. Exercising specifically for Insulin resistance shows quick results, sometimes within 48 hours of the exercise.

 

HIIT:

High Intensity Interval Training, has gained its popularity due to its effective results. It involves high strength exercises performed for about 30 minutes. The recovery period given for this type of training is higher. Thus this is done only 2 or 3 times a week.

 

This training stimulates the muscle fibre to take up the excess glucose. The adrenaline released during it also helps in fat loss. Thus helping with PCOS to a great extent.

 

Aerobic Activities:

Combining aerobic activities such as brisk walking, cycling and swimming with HIIT has shown best results. During the recovery period of HIIT, aerobic activities can be adopted to the exercise regime. Women with PCOS must be careful to not let their body sit idle for longer hours. Exercising is very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce the symptoms of PCOS. Thus aerobic activities are an easy way to jump start your exercise routine.

 

Yoga:

Yoga and meditation can never go wrong. Various yogic asanas have their effect on balancing the blood glucose levels. Other than this, yoga calms down our mind, thus reducing stress. It reduces the release of cortisols, thus also helping in managing insulin levels. This 5000 year old way of exercising has benefits not only for the treatments of metabolic syndrome, but also for any other health problem. In Yoga, everything is interrelated. Thus, by curing one problem through Yoga, many other problems are also managed.

Conclusion

PCOS is just like any other disease, and it can be treated. But, one can’t just take a medicine and cure it.  We need to change and improve our lifestyle and eating habit along with it. You should take special care if you suffer from insulin resistance. This is because PCOS and insulin resistance are directly proportional. One increases naturally with the other one.

Click here to understand how overeating, insulin resistance and PCOS are related