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My Hormones are Affecting My Weight: Exercise & Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS affects 8-12% women of reproductive age and is the most common endocrine disorder for this age group.

PCOS is characterised by a presence of excess and rogens (eg testosterone) in the body that can lead to symptoms such as acne, irregular menstrual cycles, excessive body hair, scalp hair loss, weight gain, insulin resistance and issues surrounding fertility.

Previous literature suggests modest weight reduction of about 5–10% might play the most significant role in restoration of ovulation and fertility in obese women with PCOS.

Exercise has been proven to contribute to weight reduction in PCOS patients by instigating the following changes:

1. Improved insulin sensitivity
2. Increased frequency of ovulation
3. Reduced cholesterol
4. Reduced waist and hip circumference

What type of exercise programme is best?

When people ask this question my first response is… A SUSTAINABLE ONE!

Trials which have yielded weight reduction results between 5-10% in PCOS patients have lasted beyond 20 weeks which indicates that for any exercise program to be successful it must be sustainable.

So when you’re ready and willing to commit to a sustainable exercise programme, what sort of exercise should you do?

While there are currently no specific recommendations for exercise and PCOS management, recent studies that have shown the following works well:

  • Moderate intensity aerobic fitness 5 x per week for 30 minutes per session
  • 2 x per week resistance weight training
  • Dietary adjustments
  • A combination of independent and supervised exercise settings to assist with compliance

Literature supports that higher levels of aerobic fitness and resistance strength training can increase energy demands which assists in better managing insulin sensitivity,improving muscle mass thus moderating testosterone production and normalising ovarian function to increase fertility.

Due to our current understanding around hormonal function and its variability between individuals, we understand that each patient’s medical history and exercise journey will be different. As a result, we tailor our exercise programmes to account for this.

If PCOS is a condition that you carry and you are after a lifestyle plan to assist in its management, contact us today and enquire about Exercise Physiology.

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