Polycystic ovarian syndrome is the most common endocrine condition in women of a childbearing age and can be the leading cause of infertility where ovulation does not occur.
Many of the symptoms of PCOS can be caused due to an increase in testosterone and male hormones circulated in the body, these can prevent ovulation and disrupt the menstrual cycle.
Weight gain can also be an issue with PCOS sufferers and this can have a negative effect on the symptoms. Even lean sufferers can have an increase in body fat and fat in the blood cells. This cluster of symptoms shows similarity to a metabolic syndrome and can also cause an increase in insulin resistance which all have a negative impact on cardiovascular health.
Lifestyle intervention is therefore the most obvious form of treatment with exercise shown to have a positive effect on both the reproductive and metabolic symptoms of the condition.
So what, when and how often?
High intensity interval training has been shown to have a positive effect on insulin resistance in general, in a recent study they looked at its effect on PCOS. Subjects were spilt into either a Strength Training group or a High Intensity Interval training group. The high intensity interval workout consisted of two sessions of 4 times 4 minutes of exercise at 90-95% maximum heart rate separated by 3 minutes of moderate intensity exercise at 70% maximum heart rate plus a weekly session of 10 minutes of all out high intensity exercise with 1 minute intervals of rest in between each minute.
They found beneficial effects of both groups including a decrease in body fat and an improvement in reproduction-related hormonal outcomes. Additionally, the high intensity group had positive effects on their HDL and Homocysteine and most importantly they showed a significantly reduced insulin resistance that occurred in the absence of weight loss.
In conclusion the high intensity interval training seemed to have a significantly more positive effect on the PCOS and its symptoms compared with strength training alone, although strength training showed some benefits.
Our Exercise Physiologist, Leigh-Anne can give you exercise guidelines and prescription. Book an appointment by calling (02) 4356 2588 or online via the button below.