HIIT and PCOS: Good or Bad?

If you have seen my other posts, you would know that I love to workout. When I say workout, I mean doing pretty intense ones on a regular basis.

I recently saw something about high intensity training being detrimental to people with PCOS. I decided to do some further investigating on this to see if it is true and if so, why.

Read on for what I found out!

About HIIT

Most people know what this kind of workout is but I will go over it again anyways.

HIIT stands for “High Intensity Interval Training.” It is supposed to be just as intense as the name says. These workouts have become increasingly popular in recent years.

For a workout to be considered HIIT, there are to be short intervals of intense exercise (go all out!) followed by periods of recovery. Common times for the intense intervals and recovery periods are 30-60 seconds (intense intervals) and 60-90 seconds (recovery periods).

Experts state that a HIIT workout should not go over 30 minutes- with 20 minutes being optimal. It can be done on/with the following equipment:

  • Treadmill
  • Elliptical machine
  • Dumbbells
  • Kettlebells
  • Stair steppers
  • Bodyweight
  • Rowing machine
  • Stepper (used for step fitness classes)
  • Cardio ladder

An example of a HIIT workout would be to do 60 seconds of sprinting on the treadmill followed by 90 seconds of walking. These rounds would be repeated until one gets to 30 minutes or less.

HIIT can be a standalone workout or interspersed in another one. Either way, workouts that include this type of exercise should only be done two times a week so that the body has time to recover.

There are some positives and negatives when it comes to HIIT. They are as follows:

Positives-

  • Good calorie burn- These workouts burn as much or more calories than steady state cardio and regular weight lifting ones do in a shorter amount of time. They also have a higher after-workout calorie burn.
  • Improve physical fitness- Can get you in better shape quicker than other types of exercise.
  • Improve cardiovascular health- This doesn’t only happen with HIIT as most types of exercise improves cardiovascular health. HIIT has been shown to possibly have a greater effect in this area than other workouts though.
  • May help with insulin resistance in people who have diabetes.
  • Improves mental well-being.
  • May help build your muscles depending on the type of HIIT you do.
  • May help you reach your body goals if your nutrition is right.

Negatives-

  • May be too intense if you are new to exercising.
  • May cause injury because of its intensity.
  • May cause dizziness or faintness especially if one is in a big calorie deficit.

About PCOS

PCOS is well known and if you are on my blog, there is a good chance that you know the specifics of it already. I decided that I should say a little about it anyways.

It is a hormonal disease that effects around 10% of women/non-binary people. It can cause the following symptoms:

  • Fertility issues.
  • Excess hair
  • Thinning and balding of hair on head.
  • Acne.
  • Oily skin.
  • Irregular periods.
  • Problems with weight.
  • Depression and anxiety.
  • Fatigue.

There is no cure for this condition- only treatments to manage the various symptoms that it can cause. Common treatments are as follows:

  • Spironolactone- A prescription medication for excess hair and acne.
  • various acne treatments that are OTC and prescription.
  • Metformin- A medication for insulin resistance.
  • Infertility treatments.
  • Diet and exercise for weight loss if needed.
  • Birth control

HIIT and PCOS

So we know that HIIT can be a great tool when it comes to improving one’s fitness level and overall health. Is it actually great for people with PCOS, though?

While everyone is different, there are symptoms that come with a PCOS diagnosis that are common to experience. Two of these symptoms are insulin resistance and excess weight/fat. It has been shown in studies on PCOS that HIIT can help those that struggle with them.

So why are some people saying that HIIT is bad for PCOS? Well, the fact of the matter is that HIIT is very intense. Yes, that can be a good thing but it also puts the body in a state of inflammation.

PCOS itself, is said to cause inflammation in the body. To some experts, HIIT causing an inflammatory response is just adding to the pile that is already there which then causes a worsening of PCOS symptoms.

So we have one camp that says HIIT is great for PCOS and another that says it makes it worse. Because of this, we can surmise that it all depends on the person. It seems to effect people differently due to factors that aren’t really known.

Listen to your own body

There are many people these days that seem to make claims about what to do and not to do when it comes to treating PCOS. What you need to do is listen to your body and do what works for you.

Regular exercise is very important for everyone so it is something that should be part of one’s own PCOS treatment plan. There is no “best” when it comes to the exercise you choose to do, though. It has to be something you are willing to do consistently and doesn’t cause your symptoms to get worse.

HIIT can be really helpful for someone with PCOS but it can also be detrimental for others. Because of this, you should do some research first and then monitor yourself if you decide to try it. Here are some tips to get started if you so choose:

  1. Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
  2. Make sure that you are already used to exercise. You need to have some level of fitness before doing HIIT.
  3. Research, research, research! You need to really understand how to do it and what if any equipment you are going to use.
  4. Don’t go full boar on your first couple HIIT sessions. You are going to want to get your body acclimated to this kind of training.
  5. Make sure to have had adequate nutrition on the days that you decide to do HIIT.

There are many HIIT workouts around the web for you to choose from. Fitness Blender and YouTube are great places to find some.

My body’s response to HIIT

I have been incorporating HIIT into my workout routine on and off for years. My body responds to it really well (no worsening of symptoms) and I love the way it makes me feel.

I won’t be giving it up!

I stick with only 1-2 days of it during the week as is recommended. Back when I was going to an actual gym, I would do HIIT on a treadmill but now I just use a cardio ladder and my bodyweight. I will be adding in jump roping to it soon as well.

If you are interested in trying out cardio ladder workouts in general, consider the 20 rung agility ladder from ProsourceFit.

In conclusion

Exercise is really important for people with PCOS (and everyone else!) as it can help with the symptoms. HIIT is an excellent option for someone with this diagnosis but one needs to monitor themselves as it can make symptoms worse in some.

As stated before, if you are interested in trying HIIT- do your research first and start slow.

Do any of you like doing HIIT workouts?

Thanks for reading!

Health disclaimer- I am not a medical professional, therefore what I say is not a substitute for medical advice. I am merely posting about what I learned from all of the reading I have done. If you are thinking of starting an exercise routine, it is important to consult your doctor. Your health is your own and I am not liable for any consequences that come from your choices.

Affiliate disclaimer- I am part of an affiliate program. This means that I may receive commission from clicks and purchases you make.

Here are some sources:

https://www.insider.com/guides/health/fitness/benefits-of-hiit

https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/56/5/279

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6763680/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4334091/

https://www.ideafit.com/personal-training/exercise-and-inflammation/

#fitnessblender #hiit #homeworkouts #homegym #pcos #weightloss #cardio #fitness #hormonalproblems

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