Looking for the best exercise for fibroids? Or, wondering if exercise can shrink fibroids? Exercise alone won't reduce the size or number of fibroids, but it may improve your symptoms.
Learn more about fibroids, how exercise affects this condition and how to train as safely as possible.
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Regular exercise may protect against fibroids by helping you maintain a normal weight and healthy insulin levels. If you have obesity or overweight, you can mix weight training, interval training and full-body circuits to get leaner.
Can Exercise Shrink Fibroids?
Not all people with uteruses have (or ever develop) fibroids, but these growths are found in up to 80 percent of people assigned female at birth (AFAB) in the U.S. by age 50, according to American Family Physician.
Also known as myomas, these benign tumors grow within the walls of the uterus and range in size. Generally, they stop growing after menopause but can cause painful periods, heavy bleeding, back pain or abdominal discomfort, per the University of California, San Francisco.
Unfortunately, there is no specific or best exercise for fibroids. But this doesn't mean that physical exercise won't help. On the contrary — it can improve your body composition (your body's ration of muscle to fat) and help prevent you from getting fibroids in the first place. And certain forms of movement may even help you manage symptoms (more on that below).
While some fibroid risk factors (like genetics) are out of your control, your nutrition and exercise routine are two modifiable risk factors that can help prevent fibroids from developing, according to a 2018 review in Current Medical Research and Opinion.
But as mentioned above, exercise won't necessarily shrink or eliminate pre-existing fibroids. However, adopting a more healthy lifestyle can help prevent future development.
Before you try a new exercise routine, it's best to consult a doctor to check that it's safe for your body and condition.
Best Exercise for Fibroids
As mentioned above, exercise won't necessarily shrink your fibroids, so there's no one best exercise for this condition. However, movement can help you manage your symptoms.
Before you start training, listen to your body and adjust as needed. If a form of movement feels uncomfortable, swap it for another. And before you try anything new, consult a medical professional
1. Strength Training
Strength training is one form of movement that can help improve your overall body composition and is generally safe for most people. Plus, it may improve your insulin response and overall glycemic control, according to New Mexico State University.
However, if you're experiencing back pain or abdominal sensitivity, it's best to choose lighter weights and keep your movements controlled.
Although yoga can help reduce stress, yoga does not help shrink uterine fibroids. But that does not mean that you won't benefit from doing yoga if you have fibroids. For example, yoga offers many benefits that can make you feel physically and emotionally better. Yoga may not only help you find balance but may also help you manage chronic conditions, according to the Mayo Clinic,
In addition, according to a study published in Biomedical Research in July 2017, researchers determined that stress reduction helped improve patients' outcomes going into various treatments for their uterine fibroids. As a result, adding yoga to your routine could help reduce your stress during uterine fibroid treatments.
There is also some evidence that yoga may help with premenstrual symptoms such as bloating, bodily pain, cramping and other symptoms. For a small study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in July 2016, 68 women participated in 12 weeks of yoga. The participants reported improvement in their symptoms. As a result, it is possible that yoga could help improve uterine fibroid symptoms, even if it does not shrink the tumors.
3. High-Intensity Interval Training
This training method alternates between short, intense bursts of exercise and active recovery or rest. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) may also increase insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake, while reducing cholesterol levels, reports a small study featured in Acta Physiologica in April 2018.
On top of that, HIIT sheds calories and promotes cardiovascular health, states the American Council on Exercise.
When to Seek Treatment
If your symptoms are severe, if you have multiple fibroids or if your fibroids are large or expanding, you may want to discuss treatment options with your doctor and put a pause on your workout routine. There are several different types of formal treatments your doctor may recommend, based on your individual situation.
- University of California, San Francisco: "Fibroids"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Fibroids"
- Current Medical Research and Opinion: "From Obesity to Uterine Fibroids: An Intricate Network"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar"
- New Mexico State University: "The Benefits of Strength Training and Tips for Getting Started"
- American Council on Exercise: "5 Benefits of Compound Exercises"
- Acta Physiologica: "High‐Intensity Interval Training Improves Insulin Sensitivity in Older Individuals"
- American Council on Exercise: "8 Reasons HIIT Workouts Are So Effective"
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.