Top 4 Health Benefits of HIIT for PCOS - PCOS Diva
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Top 4 Health Benefits of HIIT for PCOS

HIIT for PCOSGuest Post by Heather Lomax

For many women with PCOS, it can be difficult to find the energy to fit a substantial workout in their schedules. The benefits of exercise can’t be undersold for anyone, but research has shown that high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are particularly effective in combating the worst symptoms of PCOS, and the best part is that these brief but intense spurts of exercise are simple to integrate into your workout regimen. But how exactly is it helpful for PCOS women in particular?

1) HIIT Can Decrease Your Insulin Resistance

One of the leading contributors to PCOS is insulin resistance, a condition where the body’s cells do not respond normally to the hormones secreted by the pancreas, which then causes a build-up of glucose in the blood. In response, the ovaries begin to produce an overabundance of testosterone, leading to the classic symptoms of PCOS – i.e., body hair, acne, fertility issues, and irregular periods.

When it comes to hormonal issues, many PCOS women assume that medical treatment is the only effective option. But HIIT has actually been proven to reduce insulin resistance for these women. A 10-week study monitored the exercise habits of women with PCOS, and the results showed that HIIT training helped improve insulin resistance significantly, even without changes on the scale. But fortunately, HIIT also helps with…

2) HIIT Helps Weight Loss

Many women with PCOS report struggles in losing or keeping off excess weight in the midsection, and with moderate exercise alone, the weight seems to stay on no matter how long the regimen. But research has shown that HIIT can help carry PCOS women over that plateau.

The University of New England performed a 12-week study that involved PCOS women over the age of 18. The subjects were placed in one of two groups – one that did HIIT training three times per week, and one that acted as the control. The results of the study showed that the participants who performed regular HIIT training successfully reduced their waist-to-hip ratio, while the control group saw less significant results.

3) HIIT Reduces the Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

According to the American Heart Association, a diagnosis for metabolic syndrome only requires three out of five markers to be present – ones that are often comorbid with PCOS symptoms. For women, these include:

  • High fasting blood glucose levels
  • Waist measurement > 35 inches around
  • Blood pressure ≥ 130 mm Hg systolic or 85 mm Hg diastolic
  • Triglyceride levels ≥ 150 mg/dL
  • HDL (good) cholesterol levels ≤ 50 mg/dL

While regular exercise is effective in combating metabolic syndrome, a study done by the University of California in San Francisco showed that compared to moderate exercise, more intense bursts of exercise reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome by 22 percent and are better at managing PCOS symptoms overall.

4) HIIT Brings Harmony to Your Hormones

While diet is the surest way to help balance hormones, HIIT training is an especially beneficial form of exercise in producing more restorative hormones and, in turn, shutting down the troublesome ones that contribute to PCOS symptoms.

HIIT activates your post workout oxygen consumption, which means you’ll be burning calories long after leaving the gym. This also means that the body produces more HGH (human growth hormone) to repair stressed muscles, while at the same time increasing natural fertility and helping you feel young and energized.

Heather Lomax is a contributing writer and media relations specialist for Orangetheory Fitness. She writes for a variety of health blogs, and in her spare time, takes special interest in researching methods for achieving optimal fitness goals.

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  1. What are some HIIT exercises women can do? I’m grossly overweight right now and would need something achievable and sustainable.

    Also, what exercise did the control group perform (if any), bc I’d rather not waste my time doing that if it showed no results.

    As usual, thank you for the insightful info! I was wondering if HIIT was too stressful for a PCOSer, so this helps stack the positives for it.

    1. I think it depends upon the person. I really love Barre – it isn’t too stressful for me, and there are high intensity intervals. If you have an Orange Theory near you – give that a try. I like it, but just not as much as Pure Barre for me. You can also just go online and look for HIIT workouts on youtube or even pinterest.