More than 50% of women diagnosed with PCOS are overweight. Insulin is responsible for the sugar in the food to get converted into usable energy. It also helps the body store unused food energy as fat and helps break down fat and protein. When the body is insulin-resistant, it produces even more insulin to maintain blood sugar levels. High insulin in the body leads to higher fat storage in the body and this appears around the midsection. Hence, insulin resistance leads to an inefficient utilisation of insulin and makes it hard for the body to lose weight.

Insulin is also responsible for stimulating the appetite as a part of promoting fat storage. This is the reason why women with high insulin levels in their bodies end up having unexplained hunger pangs and intense food cravings. This leads to disrupted eating habits and consumption of more calories. Of course, all the excess food ends up as fat in the body leading to weight gain. This is the reason why so many women with PCOS are also obese. It’s a circular issue - higher insulin leads to higher food consumption which in ends up as fat but the body can’t use the insulin present to efficiently break down this fat which in turn leads to an increase in the insulin production - and the cycle continues.

One of the best ways to manage Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is through exercise. PCOS is closely linked to insulin resistance. Exercise improves the body’s sensitivity towards insulin hence reducing insulin resistance. This reduces blood sugar because the cells are better able to utilise insulin. So the blood glucose gets used up without needing to produce excess insulin. Blood glucose levels are lowered for up to 24 hours after a workout!

Apart from lowering insulin resistance, exercise, when combined with the right diet, really helps control the cholesterol levels in the body hence reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and high blood pressure. This also leads to fat and weight loss - which is the primary side-effect exercise is used for.

One of the most common benefits of exercise that not many people realise is the release of happiness hormones! There are namely three such hormones:

- Endorphines: These are released as we exercise and reduce the perception of pain in the brain. They trigger a positive and optimistic feeling after a workout. This is what is known as ‘runner’s high’ - an elated, euphoric feeling a runner has after a run.

- Dopamine: Yet another chemical released during exercise! Dopamine is the ‘reward’ hormone that controls motivation and desire. It also plays a critical role in body movement and coordination and improves alertness, focus, and concentration. Since exercise also releases dopamine, it creates feelings of satisfaction and pleasure.

- Serotonin: After you finish exercising, the dopamine level decreases while the serotonin level increases. In many ways, serotonin’s function is the opposite of dopamine. While dopamine enhances reward-seeking, serotonin suppresses it. For eg, serotonin controls appetite and hence regulates hunger and prevents impulsive eating. It also regulates the sleep-wake cycle which is an important part of dealing with PCOS. After a workout, serotonin lowers pain sensitivity and enhances the feeling of satisfaction.

As you can see, the impact of exercise goes way beyond weight loss. It is imperative if you want to feel happy, satisfied, and great in your body. Just 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week can make a massive difference. The feeling of accomplishment after a workout makes exercise so worth it! So experiment and pick an exercise (or a combination of exercises!) that leaves you feeling great!

Author's Bio: 

Ranjana TN is a Bangalore-based writer, author, entrepreneur, vegan, fitness enthusiast, and dancer. She explores a wide range of topics from personal development to life as your girl-next-door through her books and blog. She's the author of The Complete Guide to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: How to heal PCOS through simple, natural, powerful ways. Find out more at https://ranjanatn.com/ebook-complete-guide-to-pcos/