The Best Exercises for PCOS Belly Fat: Get, Set, Go!

Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)
Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)

General Physician | 6+ years

Exercises for PCOS Belly
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PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome has a varied effect on your body, and it shows up as several symptoms. However, the more physically apparent symptoms end up causing psychological distress as well. Such as excessive facial hair and the dreaded PCOS belly. Are there any exercises for PCOS belly fat? Let’s find out. 

Contents:
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    How Does PCOS Affect Your Weight?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    PCOS Belly: Shape and Characteristics
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Why is Exercising with PCOS Important?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Exercises for PCOS Belly
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    What are the Other Ways to Effectively Manage PCO Belly?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Don’t Have Time To Read?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    FAQs
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How Does PCOS Affect Your Weight?

PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a hormonal imbalance affecting women of childbearing age. An abnormally high production of androgens in PCOS leads to its symptoms. 

The exact cause of PCOS is not known, but insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia are considered to be contributory factors. In insulin resistance, your body finds it difficult to use the hormone insulin. Insulin is responsible for the uptake of glucose (from food) by your cells, where it is converted into energy.

When your cells become resistant to insulin and cannot take up glucose (sugar) from the blood, your blood sugar levels increase. This pushes your pancreas to produce more insulin to stabilise your blood sugar levels.

High insulin levels increase the production of androgens, which leads to various PCOS symptoms, including weight gain. 

PCOS Belly: Shape and Characteristics

The imbalance in hormones in PCOS and increased resistance to insulin leads to fat storage in the body in PCOS. As androgens trigger weight gain in PCOS, the weight is focused mainly around the abdomen, where men tend to carry their weight. This weight gain around the abdomen gives rise to the PCOS belly. 

Because of weight gain around the belly, women with PCOS tend to have an apple-shaped body instead of a pear-shaped one. 

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Why is Exercising With PCOS Important?

PCOS cannot be cured. It can only be managed. Making positive changes to your lifestyle is key to managing PCOS. Diet and exercise are two areas that need to be tackled to control the symptoms of PCOS. 

Wondering how exercise can help PCOS belly fat? Regular physical activity has incredible benefits for women with PCOS and these benefits go beyond just weight loss. Regular exercise helps boost insulin sensitivity, lowers cholesterol, releases endorphins (hormones that can boost your mood), regulates hormones, and aids in weight loss, which reduces your belly fat and lowers the risk of health complications with PCOS. 

Let’s take a look at exercises that help reduce belly fat in PCOS. 

Exercises for PCOS Belly

Cardio Exercises

Cardio exercises are one of the best options when it comes to reducing weight gain around the belly. For women with PCOS, regular cardio workouts such as brisk walking, running, biking or swimming can help in burning belly fat and lowering insulin resistance. 

You can aim at 30 minutes of any form of cardiovascular exercise for 5 to 7 days a week. 

Strength Training

Strength training is a great way to reduce body fat and improve lean muscle mass. It is one way to fight belly fat for those diagnosed with PCOS. Regular strength training can help you lose a considerable amount of body fat especially around the belly. 

Strength training helps you preserve and enhance your muscle mass. Strength training workouts include activities such as weight lifting, push-ups, pull-ups, planks, weight lifting, and the use of resistance tubes. Aim to do a single set of each exercise, using a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

“HIIT” or high-intensity interval training is a broad term for workouts that involve short periods of intense exercise alternated with recovery periods. The advantage of this type of workout is that you can get maximal health benefits in minimal time. 

It improves your metabolism and helps you lose body fat. HIIT workouts are one of the best options to reduce belly fat and reduce your waist circumference. You can aim for 30 to 45 minutes of HIIT workouts in a week. 

Mind-Body Exercises

PCOS may bring along a lot of stress with it. Living with unmanaged stress can result in high levels of the hormone cortisol in your body. Research suggests that women with chronically high cortisol levels tend to store excess fat around the abdomen. Thus, you need to manage your stress to get rid of the PCOS belly fat. 

Opt for workouts that incorporate deep breathing and encourage you to slow down, as these stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for reducing stress reactions. A number of calming mind and body exercises such as yoga, tai chi, and nature walks can help women with PCOS lower stress and aid in weight loss. 

Make sure that you consult your doctor before beginning any new form of exercise. If you are a beginner, start slow and gradually increase the intensity of your workout. Warm up and cool down after each session to avoid injuries.

What are the Other Ways to Effectively Manage PCOS Belly?

You should know that a completely healthy lifestyle can help you manage PCOS. Physical activity alone will likely not help you lose PCOS belly fat. Remember to:

  • Eat right for your body type. Focus on foods that are high in nutrients and low in calories.
  • Opt for more proteins and healthy fats in your diet. 
  • Add 2 to 3 servings of colourful vegetables to your diet each day to fulfil your fibre requirements.
  • Try to avoid alcoholic beverages, and processed or refined foods as they have a significant impact on your mood, energy levels, and fat storage in your body.
  • Make sure that you get enough rest and good sleep for at least 7 to 8 hours a day. Insufficient sleep can make PCOS symptoms worse. 

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a hormonal disorder affecting women of reproductive age. 
  • Insulin resistance and high insulin levels increase the production of androgens (male hormones) in PCOS, which leads to various PCOS symptoms, including weight gain. 
  • As androgens trigger weight gain in PCOS, the weight is focused mainly around the abdomen, where men tend to carry their weight. This gives rise to the PCOS belly.
  • Regular physical activity helps boost insulin sensitivity, lowers cholesterol, releases endorphins (hormones that can boost your mood), regulates hormones, and aids in weight loss in women with PCOS. 
  • Exercises that work a PCOS belly fat include cardio workouts such as brisk walking or cycling, strength training exercises such as weight lifting, “HIIT” or high-intensity interval training and mind-body workouts such as tai chi or yoga. 
  • Apart from regular exercise, remember to follow a healthy diet with proteins, healthy fats, and a reduced carbohydrate intake. Reduce consumption of processed and sugary foods and alcohol, and get enough sleep every day.
  • Start your PCOS management journey with Phable. Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading gynaecologists, endocrinologists, nutritionists, and dieticians; order medicines; book lab tests; and get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Check out our store to order healthy treats, weighing scales, fitness bands, and more! We also have a PCOS Management program that provides ‎360º care. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Healthy lifestyle changes can help you manage PCOS belly fat. This includes making dietary changes such as reduced consumption of carbohydrates and processed foods and exercising regularly. Exercises such as cardio, strength training, HIIT, and mind-body workouts can help you reduce belly fat. 

With PCOS, most women are diagnosed with insulin resistance, which makes it harder for women to lose belly fat. When your cells are resistant to insulin, your pancreas secretes more insulin to compensate for the deficit. Excess insulin promotes fat storage, especially around the belly.

Yes, PCOS can make you fat. Insulin resistance and high insulin levels in PCOS give rise to high androgen (male hormone) levels, which leads to various PCOS symptoms such as menstrual irregularities, facial hair, and weight gain. 

No, abs workouts may not be the best exercises for PCOS belly fat. Abdominal workouts do not address the hormonal issues related to PCOS. Also, ab workouts can strengthen your core, but your abdomen may still be covered with stubborn fat. You can try cardio, strength training, and HIIT to reduce belly fat in PCOS. 

Dr. Pakhi Sharma
Dr. Pakhi Sharma, MBBS
(General physician, 6+ years)
An expert in obstetrics and medical emergencies, Dr. Pakhi Sharma, an alumni of Sri Devaraj Urs University of Higher Education and Research Centre, is a general physician working at Phablecare. She has 6+ years of work experience spread across gynaecology and obstetrics, family medicine, and medical emergencies at renowned hospitals and clinics.

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