Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects one in 10 women – you probably know someone struggling with it.

And you know what makes it worse? Stress.

Women these days are in a constant state of physical and mental stress.

On the one hand, we deal with being on call 24/7 – emails and social media keep us on our toes constantly; and on the other, we’re pushing ourselves super hard in cross-funtional and HIIT sessions.

Why is this important?

For PCOS sufferers, it’s especially complicated. Because losing weight is a challenge, you might be tempted to workout harder.

But intense exercise can make the symptoms of PCOS worse.

Constant physical stress can make the body cling to fat and stop muscles from building because it can’t tell the difference between self-imposed stress from an external physical threat.

So what, we are all stressed.

Burnout is so very common nowadays among young women. Education pressure, work-life balance (which is an oxymoron if you ask me) finds them putting themselves under such pressure, and it starts at a very young age. Mental Health is the ost neglected part of physical health, but a large part of this mass burnout is the type of exercise we’re doing.

To match the ultra-competitive work and home scenario, we’re smashing high-intensity workouts like never before. We sign up for tyre smashing, wall climbing ‘functional’ classes and club them with hour long ‘cardio’ sessions – only to find that the scale only moves up. Frustrated, much?


Even though we might enjoy exercise (or we need to), we don’t consider that it releases cortisol – same as any stress. As a result, it simply adds to increasing the total volume of stress we are exposed to.

The fitness industry sells its value in blood, sweat and tears. The “go hard or go home” attitude done with increased frequency will have a detrimental effect on both your physical and mental wellbeing.

What should I do instead?

Yin exercise is the key. Yoga, Pilates, Dance based fitness, reduces the amount of stress released and actively focuses on the release of oxytocin (sometimes known as the cuddle hormone)

Well rested and focused, we become like a well-oiled machine. Only then can you teach your machine to burn fat and build muscle.

PCOS sufferers used to be advised tough workout regimes, hoping for quicker results in an already disadvantaged body. Newer research shows that more training doesn’t translate into more weight lost – in fact it may boost testosterone production and make it even harder to regulate your hormones.

When you know your body, when you are more educated and informed; you will create a space in your body to allow your mind to work along with it as well.

Excessive stress during a workout can aggravate IBS (another thing that affects people with PCOS is stomach issues) & Anxiety. When you’re anxious, you’re not engaging correctly during HIIT sessions. Breath constricts rather than expands, worsening the issue.

When you start being intelligent with your movement, things change.

What about my diet?

Every Body is different so there’s no One Magic Diet to follow, but it’s important to move and be careful with what you eat. Exercise is integral to managing PCOS. It regulates happy hormones, relieves sleep apnea, and increases insulin sensitivity. Without exercise its like watering a pot but forgetting to sow the seed. The key here is moderation. Do what you can, start with what you have, and just be kind to yourself.

Don’t try to be the perfect Instagram picture of ‘Health’. Be balanced, full and happy. Make small efforts in Small, Measurable Increments, and I promise you – the day will come when you will have put your PCOS woes behind you forever!