Exercise = Relief from PCOS
Have you exercised today? Or did you find a "reason" avoid it?
Not a trivial question. After improving your diet, exercise is the #2 thing you must do to control PCOS. So if exercise is not an integral part of your life, you're limiting your ability to reduce your suffering and frustration with this vexing medical condition.
I think we all know and agree that exercise is highly beneficial to our health and managing PCOS. So the real question is, are we doing it, or not? Most of us think we're fairly active. But what does the research have to say?
Women with PCOS Don't Exercise Enough!
On the PCOS front, there's sobering news. The University of California at San Francisco studied the physical activity of 150 women with PCOS.
41% of them did not meet the federal Department of Health and Human Services minimal guidelines for exercise. These are people who perform "light-intensity activities of daily life, such as standing, walking slowly, and lifting lightweight objects. They may do very short episodes of moderate- or vigorous-intensity activity, such as climbing a few flights of stairs, but these episodes aren't long enough to count toward meeting the Guidelines" for improving health.
Fortunately, the other 59% are at least somewhat more involved with some degree of "health-enhancing" physical activity.
Another study, from the University of Athens in Greece, is also not reassuring. They interviewed 81 adolescents with PCOS and compared them to non-PCOS girls.
The adolescents with PCOS engaged in physical activities less than the other girls. Even when they did, the frequency and intensity of exercise was less. And, they were less likely to be aware of the positive effects of exercise on their health.
All of the girls in both groups were sedentary in excess of the 4 hours per day limit, which has been linked with obesity.
These studies suggest than many of you have an issue about exercise. If you're not as physically active and not exercising as much as you feel you should, take a moment to write down all the reasons why you aren't exercising regularly. Do you see a theme in these reasons? Are they legitimate reasons or are they really just excuses?
By far the most common excuse I hear from people is "I don't have time". This is certainly the excuse I give to myself if I don't feel like exercising -- I just tell myself "I'm too busy right now. I'll get to it little later." Well, "later" never happens! My other favorite excuse is bad weather; I will exercise as soon as it's warmer or it stops raining. So when it stops raining, do I go out for some exercise? No, because I'm too busy with something else at that moment.
If you're at all like me, the problem is that you dont have a specific exercise goal and no PLAN to exercise. So it doesn't happen.
Here's how to overcome excuses and get the job done.
Write down a SMART exercise goal for yourself.
Here's an example:
Example: I want to lose 30 lbs by January 15, 2014.
Specific Yes, 20 lbs
Measurable Yes, in pounds
Attainable Yes, thats 5 lbs a month or about 1.2 lbs a week.
Realistic Yes, I have 30 lbs to spare and 1.2 lbs a week is a reasonable rate.
Timely By January 15, 2013.
Create an exercise plan so that you will achieve your goal.
Do you plan to go to work today? Are you planning to eat some food and go to sleep? Are you planning to shampoo your hair and brush your teeth? Of course! We make plans every day.
So the next step is to create an exercise plan. It could be something simple like this:
"I will exercise ____ time(s) this week. I plan to do it on _____ (day or days) at ______ (time or times). If I have a conflict with that time, my backup plan is to exercise on ______ (day) at ______ (time).
If you're not yet in the habit of exercising, you plan could be something that you know you can achieve. Example:
"I will walk briskly 2 times this week for twenty minutes. I plan to do it on Tuesday at 7:00 pm and Thursday at 10:00 am. If I have a time conflict, my backup plan is to do it on Friday at 5:00 pm and Sunday at 8:30 a.m."
In summary, goals + plans = greater probability of developing an exercise habit.
Habitual exercise = greater relief from PCOS symptoms + reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease.
If you'd like a more in-depth review of exercise, have a look at the Exercise chapter in The Natural Diet Solution for PCOS and Infertility ebook.
Lamb JD et al, Physical activity in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: prevalence, predictors, and positive health associations. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2011 Apr;204(4):352.e1-6.
Eleftheriadou M et al, Exercise and sedentary habits among adolescents with PCOS. J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2012 Jun;25(3):172-4.
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