PCOS & Exercise
If you live in a part of the world that has changing seasons, you're probably very happy that the weather is finally nice. The CYWH staff is from the Boston area, where we have four seasons. This winter was very cold and it seemed to last forever. While some of the staff went to the gym, the rest of us felt like couch potatoes because it was too cold to go outside. Spring is finally here though, and the weather has been great! We are all excited that we can get outside and enjoy it, and yes – get some exercise!
Besides following a PCOS-friendly diet, exercise plays a big role in controlling symptoms, especially with maintaining a healthy weight. Not only does exercise burn calories, it keeps your insulin levels in check, which lowers the symptom of insulin resistance. This is huge. Exercise has many more benefits as well. It can boost your overall energy level, lower stress and anxiety, and help improve your mood, raise the level of "good" cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, and even keep you "regular". I hope you are convinced that exercise should be a part of your PCOS treatment plan.
Okay, so you're probably wondering how to get moving. The first thing you need to do whenever you start a new exercise plan is to check with your healthcare provider to make sure there is no medical reason why you shouldn't exercise. If you get the thumbs up, you are all set. The recommendation for teens is 60 minutes of exercise every day. This might seem like a lot, but there are easy ways to fit physical activity into your day. It might help to think about what will motivate you to exercise too. For example; exercise will manage your weight, improve your self esteem, keep your heart healthy, etc.
Next, you should think about the activities that you like to do, such as dancing, riding your bike, or playing a team sport. You can also move your body more by changing your daily routine just a little bit. You could plan on walking instead of riding in the car or on the bus, or take the stairs instead of an elevator when you have the chance. It also really helps to cut down on TV, time on the computer, and other activities that don't require much energy.
A good fitness plan should include a balance of stretching, toning and aerobic activities. You don't have to do all three in one day, but remember to mix it up so you're not doing just one activity. Aerobic activities are excellent because they get your heart rate pumping, which speeds up your metabolism. This burns calories, which helps to reduce your insulin resistance. The end result is an improvement in your PCOS symptoms. So, aside from making lifestyle changes and taking opportunities to be active during the day, you'll need to carve out time for activities that leave you a little breathless, such as fast walking, running, swimming, playing tennis, or salsa dancing.
Exercise shouldn't be a chore, it should be fun! If it isn't, you'll dread doing it and chances are you'll put it off. However, if you have an exercise buddy you're more likely to keep your work-out dates. The CYWH staff has even created special worksheets to help you create your own fitness plan. Check them out!