An intelligent way toward a healthier mind & body
Ah Exercise…the word may bring the feelings of pleasure, disgust, frustration or even relief. Most people have a strong association with exercise whether they love it or hate it. For me, I LOVE EXERCISE. It is one of the crucial ways for us to balance our PCOS symptoms. For a woman with PCOS, regular exercise has the ability to:
- Dramatically boost and balance mood – many of us struggle with depression and/or anxiety
- Improve circulation
- Decreases overall inflammation and helps flush lymphatic fluid built up creating less “puffiness”
- Strengthen your heart reducing your risk of high blood pressure – a chronic illness common amongst women with PCOS
- Helps increase your HDL which can help rid your body of excess LDL decreasing your risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries) and heart attack – another chronic illness common amongst women with PCOS
- Improves our bodies’ ability to utilize excess glucose – helps us manage insulin resistance or diabetes type II
- Increases our metabolism – aids in weight-management/maintenance and sometimes, weight-loss
- Increases the quality of sleep
- Overtime, it improves lethargy and fatigue and improves your overall energy levels – helps give us back our energy when fatigue and lethargy used to set in
- Enhanced sexual arousal and improved sex-life – some women may struggle with a low sex-drive with untreated PCOS
Sounds amazing, right?! It truly is an intelligent choice to bring it into your life. It can be a challenge, though, finding the right type of workout, when to workout, how long to work out, how intense to workout. The truth is, any movement is movement and will help you and is significantly better than leading a sedentary lifestyle, which can be common for women with PCOS with our struggles with depression, lethargy and fatigue, poor sleep and additional health issues. So our advice is, GET UP AND MOVE! The value of getting up and moving is undeniably crucial for PCOS balance.
There is this amazing process that our bodies perform called Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). Essentially, NEAT is the energy our bodies use when we are not actually exercising at the time and is determined by our basal metabolic rate. Our basal metabolic rate is the rate at which our bodies require energy and will use that energy to stay functioning, so, the higher your basal metabolic rate is, the more energy you will burn. It’s obvious that our bodies will use more energy when actually exercising at the time and our bodies will also use energy when we aren’t exercising, but how much we move in general, how much muscle mass we contain and our hormone profile will determine how much energy we will use. The simple equation is energy input (eating of food)< energy output (energy used by our bodies) = lower weight, and of course the inverse is true, energy input > energy output = higher weight. Of course with our PCOS bodies, it’s a little more complicated, but as you get your PCOS in better balance, exercise can absolutely lead to a healthier weight and healthier mind and body in general.
NEAT is the energy your body uses when you are not actually exercising at the time, so essentially when you are shopping, cooking, watching a movie, working at your desk etcetera. It has been shown that those that are more active outside of being actively active (during an exercise program), tend to be leaner and contain more muscle mass and less body fat mass overall (Witzke, 2013). This suggests that those that are more active throughout their entire day such as going to work, going to the store, going to the school, performing household tasks, just movement in general, burn more energy and have a higher basal metabolic rate, which suggests they burn more fat at a resting state. This is such an important thing for PCOS! So ladies, be as active as you can! Get off the couch, get up from your desk chair, get off of your bed, get up and move!
There are so many types of exercise and although the CDC recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise
per week (that approximates to 30 minutes of briskly walking 5 days per week) or 75 minutes of vigorous per week, and 2-3 times per week of strength training activities, start with whatever you can and slowly work yourway up. The BIGGEST mistake you can do besides not exercise is jump in full-force too soon and you WILL burn yourself out encouraging detrimental behavior because you didn’t achieve your high expectations. One of the Founders, Bethany, has a consistent exercise program that she built with her health coach that consists of 4 days of cardio activity of 60 minutes each and 3 days of strength training of 60 minutes each (not to mention yoga nearly every day) and this was built over 2 years time. You must work your way up to achieve your greatest success with a consistent exercise program.
Suggestions for Exercise
When it comes to exercise in general, find something that you’re able to stick with because you ENJOY it. You will but much more likely to stick to your exercise program if you look forward to it. You will fail at creating a successful regular exercise program if you do something that you don’t enjoy making you feel as if you “have” to do it. Plus, you could severely injure yourself. Here are suggestions –
- Join a fitness class such as Zumba, Bootcamp, Strength Training, Pilates, Cycling, Aqua Fitness
- Join a gym and hop on their exercise equipment and utilize their free weights
- Get OUTSIDE! Walk in your neighborhood, your local park, your local trail, hike. Get on your bike and ride.
- Grab your significant other, your children, your girlfriend and become exercise partners! Walk together, jog together, ride bikes together, go to the gym together, just exercise together
- Try a new exercise video or exercise program that you can do at home
Keep trying new exercises to perform until you find ones that you love and look forward to doing. Keep it interesting!
Take home message-Knowledge IS Power
Exercise is an integral part of keeping your PCOS in balance and with a regular exercise program built, you will feel absolutely amazing mind, body and soul. If you’re struggling with getting a consistent exercise program established, sign-up for our ACE FITNESS Certified Health Coach Plan. Our Health Coaches can dramatically help you with your success! Keep moving ladies and you will feel the difference!
Witzke, K.A. (2013). ACE Health Coach Manual: Basic Nutrition and Digestion. San Diego, CA: American Council on Exercise.