2. Manage PCOS symptoms with strength training
Most PCOS sufferers find it harder to properly metabolise glucose, so they wind up producing greater levels of insulin and their blood sugar levels subsequently spike. Strength training combined with dietary shifts designed to ease symptoms is the best way of tackling the condition, as this combo will help you lose weight and rev up your metabolism.
Regular, resistance based exercise can help to balance out hormones and lower androgen levels, which in turn decrease the excess testosterone, which causes symptoms like facial hair and acne. Include some cardio or HIIT to boost circulation and lower cholesterol levels because women with PCOS are often at a higher risk of having elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, due to insulin resistance and excess body fat.
Moderate or vigorous strength training with weights has been proven to significantly lower the testosterone levels of PCOS sufferers- one analysis of 16 studies found that women who performed 30 hours of resistance training over a 6-26 week period, had levels that were 15% lower than those who did not.
The same study found that consistency is important, as the more often you resistance train, the better the results you can expect. Participants who completed 50 hours of training over the same time period had an even greater decrease in testosterone. The ideal number of strength based workout sessions weekly is 5 – but if you can’t manage this amount, shoot for 2-3 and you should still start to see some improvement in symptoms. More muscle mass means that more glucose can be used up in your bloodstream, which in turn leads to improved blood sugar levels, so your goal should be to boost muscle mass by combining strength training alongside a high protein diet.
Even if you can’t work out, if you have PCOS, the important thing is to stay active, often – clinical trials found that 3 weekly sessions of just 30 minutes activity a day, 3 times a week, improved the metabolic and reproductive symptoms linked to the condition. Increasing your step count is the single best exercise choice you can make to improve PCOS symptoms – if you can hit at least 5-8k steps a day this will significantly help to improve inflammation levels and insulin resistance.