Best Exercises For Individuals With PCOS

Exercise is necessary for individuals with PCOS, as shown by the research, but which one is best for you? Let us discover the same.

By URLife Team
18 Jun 2023

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder that affects 8 to 13 per cent of women of reproductive age.  It causes a wide range of  symptoms such as hormonal imbalances, irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain, and possibly even infertility. While there is no cure for PCOS, having a healthy lifestyle can significantly alleviate its symptoms and enhance overall well-being. 


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The Relationship Between Exercise and PCOS

PCOS is closely associated with insulin resistance, weight gain, and hormonal imbalances. Regular exercise plays a vital role in mitigating these factors by improving insulin sensitivity, managing weight, reducing androgen levels, and promoting hormonal balance. Incorporating exercise into a PCOS management plan has emerged as a powerful tool to alleviate symptoms and improve the overall quality of life. 

By understanding the intricate relationship between exercise and PCOS, individuals can harness its benefits to effectively manage the condition. Learn the effects of exercise on PCOS, exploring how it can address hormonal imbalances, improve insulin sensitivity, promote weight management, enhance mental well-being, and empower individuals on their journey to optimal health. Here is how you can harness exercise to reduce PCOS symptoms:


1. Addressing Hormonal Imbalances

Hormonal imbalances, particularly elevated androgen (male hormone) levels, is a common symptom for those who suffer from PCOS. Exercise plays a crucial role in regulating hormone production and balancing hormonal levels. Through regular physical activity, the body can reduce androgen levels, leading to improvements in symptoms such as acne, excess hair growth, and irregular menstrual cycles.


2. Improving Insulin Sensitivity

 Insulin resistance is a common metabolic issue associated with PCOS. Fortunately, exercise has a profound impact on improving insulin sensitivity. Physical activity enhances the body's ability to utilise insulin effectively, thereby reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and helping to manage blood sugar levels. By improving insulin sensitivity, exercise also contributes to a better overall metabolic profile.


3. Promoting Weight Management

Weight gain and difficulty in losing weight are common challenges for women with PCOS. Exercise, when combined with a balanced diet, is a key component in successful weight management. Regular physical activity helps burn calories, increase metabolism, and build lean muscle mass. Engaging in both cardiovascular exercises and strength training can aid in weight loss, improve body composition, and support long-term weight maintenance


4. Enhancing Mental Well-being

PCOS not only affects the body but also takes a toll on mental health. Exercise has been proven to have a positive impact on mental well-being by inducing the release of endorphins, the body's natural "feel-good" hormones. Regular exercise reduces stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression, improving mood and enhancing overall psychological well-being. Engaging in physical activity can also boost self-confidence, body image, and self-esteem.


5. Improving Cardiovascular Health

Individuals with PCOS are at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Regular aerobic exercises, such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming, can improve cardiovascular fitness, strengthen the heart, and lower the risk of cardiovascular complications.


Related story: How To Manage PCOS With Diet And Exercise


Lifestyle Tips To Enhance Exercise Benefits

To maximise the benefits of exercise in managing PCOS, consider implementing the following lifestyle tips:

  • Maintain a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet with an emphasis on whole foods, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day.
  • Prioritise sufficient sleep and establish a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Manage stress through techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and engaging in hobbies.
  • Consult with a doctor or a certified fitness trainer to personalise your exercise routine based on your individual needs and capabilities.


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Exercise is a game-changer for individuals with PCOS, offering transformative effects on their physical and mental well-being, but not all exercises are meant for individuals dealing with PCOS. When it comes to exercise for individuals with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), incorporating a variety of exercise types can be beneficial for managing symptoms and improving overall well-being. Here are four exercise types to consider:


1. Steady-State Cardiovascular Workouts 

Steady-state cardiovascular exercises involve maintaining a moderate intensity for an extended period. Activities like brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or using the elliptical machine can be effective. Aim for 30-60 minutes of steady-state cardio exercises most days of the week. These exercises promote calorie burning, improve cardiovascular health, and aid in weight management.


2. Interval Training

Interval training alternates between high-intensity bursts of exercise and short recovery periods. This type of workout can be beneficial for individuals with PCOS as it helps improve insulin sensitivity and boosts metabolism. Examples include sprinting, high-intensity cycling, or circuit training. Start with shorter intervals and gradually increase intensity and duration over time.


3. Mind-Body Exercises

Mind-body exercises, such as yoga, Pilates, or tai chi, combine physical movement with mental focus and relaxation techniques. These exercises can help reduce stress, improve flexibility, enhance mindfulness, and promote overall well-being. Consider joining classes or following online tutorials to incorporate these exercises into your routine.


4. Strength Training

Strength training exercises involve resistance training to build and strengthen muscles. This type of exercise can help improve insulin sensitivity, increase metabolism, and support weight management. Incorporate exercises using free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, and planks. Aim for two to three strength training sessions per week, targeting different muscle groups.


Related story: A 15-Minute PCOS Workout You Can Do Anywhere


Diet for PCOS

A healthy and balanced diet is crucial for managing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and its associated symptoms. While there is no one-size-fits-all diet for PCOS, making certain dietary changes can help improve insulin sensitivity, regulate hormone levels, and support overall well-being. Here are some dietary recommendations for individuals with PCOS:

1. Focus on Complex Carbohydrates: Opt for complex carbohydrates that have a lower glycemic index (GI) to help manage insulin levels. Include whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oats, and whole wheat bread instead of refined grains. These complex carbs provide fibre, which aids in blood sugar regulation and promotes a feeling of fullness.

2. Increase Fruit and Vegetable Intake: Include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and provide dietary fibre. Aim for a colourful assortment to ensure a wide range of nutrients. Berries, leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes, and bell peppers are particularly beneficial.

3. Choose Lean Proteins: Incorporate lean protein sources in your meals to support muscle health and regulate blood sugar levels. Opt for sources like skinless chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, legumes, and low-fat dairy products. Protein can help you feel satiated and maintain stable energy levels throughout the day.

4. Include Healthy Fats: Focus on consuming healthy fats in moderation. Sources such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil provide essential fatty acids and promote satiety. Avoid or limit saturated and trans fats found in fried foods, processed snacks, and fatty meats.

5. Reduce Added Sugars and Processed Foods: Limit your intake of added sugars, sugary beverages, and processed foods. These can lead to blood sugar spikes, weight gain, and inflammation. Opt for natural sweeteners like stevia or use small amounts of honey or maple syrup if needed.

6. Manage Portion Sizes: Be mindful of portion sizes to maintain a healthy weight and balance your calorie intake. Practice portion control and listen to your body's hunger and fullness cues. Eating smaller, frequent meals throughout the day may help regulate blood sugar levels.

7. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Water is essential for overall health and helps support optimal bodily functions. Limit sugary beverages and opt for herbal teas or infused water for added flavour.

8. Consider a Low-Glycemic or Mediterranean-style Diet: Some evidence suggests that a low-glycemic index (GI) or Mediterranean-style diet may be beneficial for women with PCOS. These diets focus on whole, unprocessed foods, and emphasise fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats while minimising refined carbohydrates and saturated fats.


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It's important to listen to your body, start at an appropriate intensity, and gradually progress as your fitness level improves. Get an exercise program that suits your individual needs and goals with UR.Life. Also, it is important to get regular health check-ups done to diagnose and confirm PCOS.


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Regular health checks are essential for everyone, but they are particularly important for individuals who are at risk of or already have PCOS. Taking regular health checks can help detect PCOS at an early stage when it is easier to manage and treat. With the UR.Life HRA, we help you to invest in your well-being through seamless interventions and targeted medical treatments. Our holistic wellness approach caters to all aspects of your well-being. We ensure that you can bring your whole self to work.

With our medical professionals by your side, routine health check-ups will never be an issue. Advanced laboratory technologies back UR.Life’s Occupational Health Centers (OHC), and with highly qualified experts/technicians, we’re committed to delivering trusted and quality recommendations, modifications and advice to you.



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