High-Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT for short) is a time-effective and fun way to get in a cardio workout. If less time on a treadmill is not enough to pique your interest, you should also know that HIIT is an especially great workout for women with PCOS. This article focuses on the things every woman with PCOS should know about HIIT.
Give HIIT a try today and grab my free HIIT workout guide.
What is HIIT?
HIIT is a type of cardio workout that alternates between bouts of extremely challenging, fast-paced exercise (the work interval) and bouts of low-intensity exercise (the recovery interval). HIIT workouts are more physically demanding than traditional cardio workouts, which means you’re able to get the same results in less time.
You can adjust HIIT workouts to suit your preferences. HIIT-style workouts can be done on a cardio machine, running outdoors, at home with bodyweight movements like jumping jacks, or kettlebell movements. Some examples of HIIT workouts include alternating between sprints and a steady pace on an exercise bike, doing intervals of kettlebell swings followed by marching in place or alternating between running and walking.
HIIT workouts are appropriate for most women regardless of their fitness level. The ratio between how much time you spend in a work interval versus a recovery interval can be adjusted so that the workout is challenging for you but not overwhelming.
Why is HIIT good for PCOS?
There have been a few medical studies which indicate that High-Intensity Interval Training has a positive impact on PCOS. Here’s look at some of their findings:
HIIT does a better job of correcting insulin resistance when compared with traditional cardio workouts. Insulin resistance is a root cause for many PCOS symptoms. Fortunately, exercise can help correct insulin resistance and studies suggest that HIIT is especially good at improving the way PCOS women respond to insulin. For example, a study published in the International Journal of Obesity compared young women who did HIIT workouts with young women who did traditional moderately-paced cardio workouts. The women who did HIIT had a 31% decrease in fasting insulin concentrations compared to 9% for the women who did moderately-paced cardio workouts.
HIIT workouts help PCOS women lose fat. A handful of studies like this one conducted by researchers in Norway have found that PCOS patients who do High-Intensity Interval Training are able to reduce their body fat percentage. It is also worth noting that it women who do HIIT workouts reduce their belly fat in particular.
HIIT workouts can prevent heart disease. PCOS put us at greater risk for developing heart disease. HIIT workouts have been shown to improve heart health in both PCOS women and the general population.
More benefits in half the time. As I mentioned, HIIT workouts are shorter than traditional cardio but they deliver similar results. For example, women in a recent study were assigned to two different groups: one group did 20-minute HIIT workouts for five weeks, the other did 40-minute moderately-paced cardio workouts for 5 weeks. Both groups of women saw improvements to their PCOS including lower testosterone. However, the HIIT group spent 50% less time in the gym!
The Bottom Line
High-Intensity Interval Training and traditional cardio are both good for your health, but HIIT gives women with PCOS an edge when it comes to managing insulin resistance, belly fat, and sex hormone imbalances. These factors, in combination with the time effectiveness of HIIT (most workouts are 10-20 minutes), makes HIIT an excellent choice for women with PCOS.
If you’ve never tried a HIIT workout or you’d like some guidance on getting the most out of your workouts, take a look at my free HIIT workout guide.