Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal illness that can be difficult to live with: It can affect everything from your weight and insulin levels to your energy and mood. This can make everyday life challenging, especially when it comes to exercise.

Managing your fitness with PCOS is all about finding the right workouts and levels of intensity on any given day, and listening to your body. Read on for tips to help you find the best workout for PCOS that works for you.

Try gentle yoga 

Aside from the calming benefits of a sunrise flow, yoga can be a smart addition to your PCOS workout routine for other reasons: A small research study concluded that one hour of yoga practice three times per week could decrease women’s free testosterone by 29 percent and potentially help reduce symptoms of depression. Lowering testosterone levels, or androgen, can help manage common PCOS symptoms, like excess hormones that typically cause irregular or no periods, excess hair growth or hair loss, acne, and ovarian cysts.

Take 15-minute walks throughout the day 

Research shows that taking three, 15-minute walks throughout the day can improve blood sugar levels, which can be important for women with PCOS. Experts suggest planning your walk after a meal, as it can help your cells absorb glucose better. Also, dividing your workout into short bursts of movement can be just as effective as an ongoing intense workout (we’ll get to that next).

Opt for pilates or barre

While high-intensity (HIIT) workouts are all the rage, it’s important to understand how vigorous exercise can affect your hormones and glucose levels when you have PCOS. With that in mind, the best workout for PCOS may be one that emphasizes building core strength and doing lower impact, gentle movements  that can be sustained for a longer period of time, especially if you’re new to working out. After you know how your body reacts, you can start to increase the intensity, if that’s your goal.

Add in strength-training

Although more research is needed about the effect of resistance training on PCOS symptoms, including it in your workout routine can be a good start. Strength-training using your own bodyweight or added weight from dumbbells or resistance bands can help you increase endurance, muscle mass, and strength. This kind of workout has been shown to improve PCOS symptoms like insulin resistance, glucose metabolism, and resting metabolic rate.

Incorporate recovery days

Sometimes the best workout for PCOS is doing nothing at all—and that’s okay!  Focus on hydration and refueling your body. Meditate. Stretch. Rest days allow time for your muscles to recover and rebuild stronger. So, if your body is telling you it needs a break, take it. 

Each woman experiences PCOS differently, and her workout routine may reflect that. Diversity is a good thing. Share your favorite workout in the comments! 😊💪🏽