How to Exercise When You Have PCOS

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Exercise is a crucial component of any healthy lifestyle, especially for women polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

PCOS puts you at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, making exercise extra important to help you stay healthy. Here's what you need to know before getting started.

Talk To Your Doctor

Before starting any new exercise plan, speak to your doctor to be cleared for exercise and to develop a safe workout plan.

If you are undergoing fertility treatments, you should also speak with your reproductive endocrinologist (RE) prior to starting to exercise.

REs often place restrictions on the intensity or type of activity you should do to reduce your risk for a potentially serious health condition known as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and to boost your chances for a successful pregnancy.

Start Slow

Statistically speaking, most women have difficulty sticking with a program that is too intense and requires too much time and energy too soon. Starting slowly is your best strategy for long-lasting change.

Focus on adding in a few days of walking each week. Once that habit is established, either lengthen the time that you walk, increase the intensity of the walk or add in some strength training.

Schedule Time To Exercise

Aim for 5 days of exercise each week. Make sure to add it to your schedule and make that time non-negotiable.

Review your schedule to determine when you can add in a 45-minute to an hour block to work out. Do your best to stick to that schedule.

Some women wake up earlier in the morning to work out or try to fit it in during a lunch hour or after work. There is no perfect time to exercise, only when you can make it work consistently.

Plan Cardio and Strength Training

When setting your schedule, be sure to include time for both cardio and strength training. Some women do a full body weight training day each week; others break it down each day and add it to their cardio routine.

For example, arms on Monday, legs on Tuesday, abs on Wednesday, etc. Choose whichever routine you feel works best for you — and don’t hesitate to switch it up a little until you figure it out.

Make sure to give your muscles at least a few days of healing before working them out again. Stretching after your workout is a great way to boost your flexibility as well. What you do is less important then doing it regularly.

To help you get started, check out these exercises for some suggestions.

Figure out your Motivation

There will be times when you don’t feel like exercising, but it’s important to push through those times. Try calling up a friend to work out with. It may even be time to switch up the routine and try something new.

Team sports or group exercise classes are a great alternative and can provide better motivation because of the group mentality then solo gym time or running.

Also try to avoid the scale. As you work out, your body will be changing. You'll gain muscle mass and lose fat tissue, so you may not see any changes in your weight. This can be extremely disheartening.

Instead, try to focus on the other benefits: your heart is getting healthier, your blood sugar or cholesterol is lowering, you’re sleeping better, your symptoms of depression are getting better. That is what will keep you motivated for the long term, not the number on a scale.

Allow for Flexibility

Life changes and your schedule and workout will need to as well. Don’t hesitate to make changes as you need to accommodate injuries, life changes and your own needs.

Stick with living an active lifestyle and do your best to fit in regular cardio and strength training (in whatever form that takes), and above all, enjoy the health that comes with living actively!

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