Weight Training and PCOS: How a Lifestyle Change Can Help Improve Symptoms
This week’s study: Progressive Resistance Training in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Can Pumping Iron Improve Clinical Outcomes?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is one of the most common endocrine dysfunctions found in women of reproductive age, affecting around 10% of the female population.
PCOS is characterized by excessive levels of androgens in the body, irregular or absent menstrual cycles, and the presence of small cysts in the ovaries. All of these symptoms are known to be caused by insulin resistance, which is the common denominator in all cases of PCOS. Other features of the disorder include acne, hirsutism, obesity, and an increased risk for infertility and miscarriages.
Women with PCOS are also at a greater risk of developing Type II diabetes, due to insulin resistance.
In both Type II Diabetes and PCOS, insulin signaling is worsened by environmental factors such as a low-activity lifestyle and obesity.
Insulin resistance is what contributes to androgen excess in the body, and therefore makes the PCOS condition worse. With that being said, certain actions to alleviate this specific condition should be taken in order to improve PCOS symptoms and quality of life.
For patients with Type II diabetes, weight training is commonly used as a supplement to medical intervention, as progressive resistance training has been shown to significantly increase insulin sensitivity by as much as 45%. It has also been shown to increase skeletal muscle size and quality, which in turn can improve body composition by increasing fat-free mass and decreasing overall body fat.
Similar measures may be taken by women suffering from PCOS, as the underlying mechanisms for both disorders are essentially the same.
The bottom line: if you suffer from PCOS, strength training as little as 2 to 3 days per week may be all you need to start seeing positive changes and reductions in your symptoms.
Until next time,
Cheema, B. S., Vizza, L., & Swaraj, S. (2014). Progressive Resistance Training in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Can Pumping Iron Improve Clinical Outcomes?Sports Med Sports Medicine, 44(9), 1197-1207.