Most women with polycystic ovary syndrome have issues with their weight. What exactly causes PCOS remains unknown but possible triggers include excess production of male hormones and insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar. According to the Boston Children’s Hospital Center for Young Women’s Health, no one type of exercise is better than another for sufferers of PCOS, and any type of activity will benefit you, just as it does for anyone trying to lose weight.
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Insulin and Weight Gain
Many sufferers of PCOS have insulin resistance, a condition where their body cannot use this hormone efficiently. This causes the body to produce even more to get the job done. The more insulin you have, the more sugar that gets moved into your cells, even if they do not need it. As a result, your body converts the excess sugar to fat, when it would normally get excreted in the urine. Not only will exercise help you burn excess fat, it helps lower insulin levels, particularly if you do it after meals.
Any type of aerobic exercise will help you lose weight, provided you exercise at least at a moderate pace for long enough. The Center for Young Women’s Health recommends you work up to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five days a week. Certain activities obviously will burn more calories than others and can help speed efforts. The Mayo Clinic offers the following information regarding certain types of exercise and the calories burned per hour for a 160-lb. person. Walking 2 mph will burn 187 calories while a pace of 3.5 mph will burn 277. Swimming laps will burn 511 while using a stair-climbing machine will use 657. Jogging 5 mph will burn off 584 while running 8 mph will use up 986. High-impact aerobics will burn 511.
While you might associate strength training with toning and tightening up your body rather than viewing it as a weight loss aid, it is actually one of the best tools for weight loss. The majority of the calories you burn throughout the day are used to support your body and its functions, such as digestion. Highly active tissue such as muscle requires more fuel than fat, which means the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn at rest. Certified strength and conditioning specialist Deborah L. Mullen says each pound of muscle burns 35 calories a day – this might not sound like a lot but if you have several pounds of muscle, you could increase the calories you burn daily by the hundreds just by being more muscular. Mullen recommends strength training two to three times a week for about 30 minutes. Examples include using free weights and doing pushups, squats and lunges.
When it comes to fat loss, adding interval training to your workout regimen can maximize fat loss while reducing the amount of time you exercise. Adding high-intensity training might allow you to do less aerobic exercise, but you should still include it for other benefits it provides such as improving cardiovascular health and reducing risk of chronic diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes. Interval training involves short, intense bursts of activity followed by a rest period of low-impact exercise, such as doing a set of sprints. Researchers at New South Wales University conducted a study in 2007 involving 45 overweight women that found that interval exercise resulted in three times the fat loss compared with steady cardiovascular exercise. For 15 weeks, the interval group did 20 minutes of biking three times a week – they switched between eight seconds of hard pedaling followed by 12 seconds of light pedaling. The steady exercise group did 40 minutes of continuous pace riding for 40 minutes. Researcher Steven Boutcher explains that interval training appears to increase the production of a set of chemicals that make the body burn more fat.
- Children's Hospital Boston Center for Young Women's Health: PCOS Nutrition Guide
- Mayoclinic.com: Insulin and Weight Gain
- Mayoclinic.com: Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in One Hour
- University of New South Wales: How to Burn More Fat With Less Effort
- SpineUniverse; Strength Training for Weight Loss Success; Deborah L. Mullen, C.S.C.S.; March 2010