Exercise and PCOS

Things to know about PCOS

PCOS, is a common endocrine condition, affecting 1 in 10 women in the UK. There are a variety of symptoms an individual may experience, some of the most common include; irregular periods, excessive hair growth, acne and oily skin and infertility. Whilst it cannot be cured, lifestyle changes and medication are key for PCOS symptom management. Within these lifestyle changes, exercise is often recommended.

Overall benefits of exercise

Due to its many benefits, regular exercise is recommended for most individuals, including those with PCOS. One of the well-known benefits is the reduced risk of heart disease, with evidence strongly suggesting the more active we are the lower our risk.

Additionally, movement has been found to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, linked with PCOS in relation to insulin resistance. Exercise typically lowers blood sugar levels and increases insulin sensitivity. Interestingly, research here, suggests the type of exercise isn’t important, with moderate and vigorous-intensity exercise, aerobic exercise and resistance training both increasing insulin sensitivity.

Furthermore, exercise has been linked to better sleep and increased happiness.

Movement and PCOS management

For PCOS, in particular, regular exercise can be beneficial as increasing muscle mass can help with glucose clearance from circulation, consequently supporting the management of insulin resistance.

Individuals with PCOS have been found to have high levels of free testosterone, therefore sports like weight training may be beneficial. Additionally, research has found in women with PCOS (326) regular vigorous exercise (a minimum of 75 minutes per week) had better glucose tolerance, and a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, independent of BMI or energy expenditure.


Whilst there are clear benefits of exercise generally and with PCOS management, it is important to remember there is no one perfect exercise for PCOS. Research has found in individuals with PCOS the type, length and frequency of movement did not impact symptoms, and instead benefits were seen in sustainable less intensive studies, for example there is evidence to suggest yoga can be beneficial for PCOS. Therefore, finding a form of movement that you enjoy and works for you is the most important when choosing how to move your body.

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