Last updated on May 2018

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Exercise


Brief description of study

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder characterized by oligo-ovulatory menstrual dysfunction, androgen excess and polycystic ovaries. It affects ten to fifteen percent of reproductive-age women and has been associated with complications in reproductive, metabolic and cardiovascular health. Current Clinical Practice Guidelines suggest exercise and weight loss for PCOS, although their specific roles in improving PCOS-related symptoms are uncertain.

Non-pharmacological treatments are appealing to many reproductive age women. There is preliminary evidence that exercise in PCOS may increase menstrual regularity, ovulation, cardiorespiratory fitness, health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and self-esteem, and decrease body fat and insulin resistance. These studies have been limited by short durations and lack of randomization or appropriate control groups.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT), which involves brief intervals of near-maximal exercise alternating with lower-intensity exercise, is becoming increasingly popular in the exercise community. In some non-PCOS trials, HIIT resulted in improved cardiovascular fitness and greater fat loss compared with continuous aerobic exercise. No other trials are currently on-going that are comparing HIIT with continuous aerobic exercise training in women with PCOS (as confirmed by searches of the literature and the clinical trials registry maintained by the US NIH).

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03362918

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Jamie L Benham, MD

University of Calgary Clinical Trials Unit
Calgary, AB Canada
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