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.

Hormonal disparity: Actual culprit for weight gain

You must have seen many people eat too much or not doing any workout and still don’t gain weight and some people even when they don’t eat too much and are very regular on their workout find it difficult to lose weight.  Do you wonder why?? The answer is “METABOLISM”. And who decides their metabolism?? The answer is “HORMONES”.

Hormones are organic chemical messengers that decide about everything in your body like growth, mood and behavior, digestion and fertility and most importantly our shape and our weight.

See-Saw of Master Hormones: Insulin & Glucagon

Glucagon is the counter-hormone to insulin. It actually redirects fat for energy use and does not go into storage mode. In fact, when glucagon is present in the body, it will allow the body to open the fat cells, empty them and use the content for energy. In other words, it’s the key to the locked fat cells.

Insulin, a fat-storing Hormone: Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas.  Insulin is a “key” that “unlocks” your cells for glucose (sugar) uptake from the blood in tissues such as muscles, the liver, and fat. This is an important process to make sure that energy is available for everyday functioning and to maintain normal levels of circulating glucose.

When glucose is present in your bloodstream, insulin blocks access to your body’s fat reservesAfter all, why burn fat, when you have sugar around? Insulin also causes the body stores excess glucose as fat under the process called “lipogenesis”.

When there is an interruption in insulin levels, the body gets resistant to insulin. Muscle cells, then, fail to recognize the glucose-bound insulin and glucose remains in the bloodstream. Hence, it causes a spike in the blood sugar levels and leads to weight gain.

Glucagon, a fat-breaking hormone: Glucagon is a counterpart of Insulin. It is also secreted by the pancreas and it actually raises your blood sugar by converting glycerol in your fat cells into glucose for fuel. Glucagon signals the body to release stored fat to be used as fuel under the process called “lipolysis”

The take-home message here is that when you eat something, Insulin is secreted that promotes fat storage and it keeps you fat by blocking access to your fat reserves. But when you are in the fasting stage, Glucagon is secreted which is essential for breaking down body fat and burning it for energy.

Leptin, a hunger-suppressing hormone: Leptin is a hunger-suppressing hormone!…..sounds good right??. But wait ..here is the catch! When we eat food rich in sugar, the oversupply of fructose gets converted into fat that gets deposited in the liver, belly and other regions of the body. These fat cells secrete too much leptin and this makes you “leptin resistant” making your brain stop receiving signals to avoid eating and making you eat too much in turn.

People with obesity tend to be resistant to the effects of leptin. Consuming anti-inflammatory foods, exercising and getting enough sleep may improve leptin sensitivity.

Ghrelin, Hunger hormone: Ghrelin is a hunger hormone that stimulates the appetite and increases fat deposition. Ghrelin levels are also high when people are on a strict diet or while fasting.

Cortisol, stress hormone: It’s known as a “stress hormone” because it’s released by the adrenal gland when your body senses stress such as physical injuries, daily stress (overwork, relationships, finances, etc), and even activities like lifting weights and cardio workouts. Chronic stress leads to an increase in cortisol and chronically elevated levels of cortisol can lead to overeating and weight gain.

Estrogen: Both very high and low levels of estrogen can lead to weight gain. This depends on age, the action of other hormones, and the overall state of health. To maintain fertility during the reproductive years, estrogen starts promoting fat storage at puberty. However during menopause, when estrogen levels drop because less is produced in the ovaries, the site for fat storage shifts from the hips and thighs to visceral fat in the abdomen. This promotes weight gain, insulin resistance and increases disease risk.

Progesterone: A male hormone, required by both men and women at adequate levels. Most adult women have about the same testosterone levels as a 10-year-old boy making harder for women to burn fat and build muscle than it is for men. Low levels of testosterone promote fat storage and inflammation. Conversely, Excess testosterone in women, especially around menopause, is associated with insulin resistance and belly fat. You can see why having this hormone in the right balance is so important.

Cholesystokinin & Peptide YY: A Hunger suppressing hormone: Cholecystokinin (CCK) and Peptide YY (PYY) are other satiety hormone produced by cells in your gut. Higher amounts of CCK and PPY have been shown to reduce food intake in both lean and obese people.

Fight or Flight Hormone, Epinephrine: Known as a “fight or flight” hormone, epinephrine drives the burning of fat and its release for energy in the body. Epinephrine can also aid in reducing hunger. Exercise is the best way to turn on epinephrine release in your body, interval training in particular boost up epinephrine.

Take-Home: The best way to get your hormones back on track is to correct hormonal misfires with changes to the way you eat, move, think, and supplement. 80% of your weight is determined by Hormone-food interaction, so you want to eat in a way that optimizes your hormones. Following are some tips to consider,

  • Minimize all insulin stimulating foods. These include white sugar, excess alcohol, and all processed and refined flours.
  • Pick glucagon/CCK/PPY stimulating foods at every meal. Reduce carbohydrate content of your meal and include high protein items such as chicken, fish, turkey, cottage cheese, yogurt, lean red beef, eggs, hemp, protein powder (pea, rice or whey).
  • Essential fatty acids. In addition to cold-water fish, nuts, and seeds – it is advisable to supplement with a distilled fish oil supplement daily.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking 2 liters of water per day is critical for energy, vitality and overall health. No excuses on this one –just make it a habit.
  • Exercise: Exercise is by far one of the most effective ways to lower cortisol and other stress hormone response.
  • Sleep: A good night’s sleep can do wonders for proper cortisol secretion and weight loss. Remember you secrete growth hormone only when you are sleeping.