What is the best exercise routine for insulin resistance? Which exercises are beneficial for managing PCOS? Does exercise help with IBS? These common questions frequently arise in the clinic, prompting me to write a brief guide on the topic. 

Exercise and taking care of your muscles is crucial for overall health. It benefits various aspects of your well-being, including hormone health, conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), insulin resistance, heart disease, and diabetes. It can also help optimise fertility, maintain strong bones, support mental well-being, and even promote a healthy gut. But you might be wondering, what is the best type of exercise and how long should you be doing it? Well, let's find out!

Finding enjoyment in physical activities is crucial for sustaining consistent exercise and reaping its benefits. The frequency, intensity, and duration of exercise are not as important as how you feel during the activity and what brings you pleasure. Research indicates that deriving pleasure from exercise plays a significant role in long-term adherence. This concept aligns with the Hedonic Theory of Motivation, suggesting that people are more likely to engage in activities that feel good and avoid those that cause discomfort.

The truth is that you could have the most ‘perfect’ exercise prescription, but you won’t be able to sustain it, unless you ENJOY it.

Instead of viewing exercise as a chore or something you should be doing, focus on discovering activities that genuinely bring you joy, increase your energy, and improve your mood. Embrace the idea of exercise as a source of pleasure, and let go of any exercise that feels like punishment. So, what physical activities do you truly enjoy?

Below are some ideas for exercise- why not choose to try something new this week?

  1. Walking: A simple yet effective exercise that can be done anywhere. Start with a leisurely stroll and gradually increase your pace to make it more challenging. 

  2. Jogging or Running: If you're looking for a higher-intensity cardiovascular workout, jogging or running can be great options. Start with a comfortable pace and gradually increase your speed and distance.

  3. Cycling: Whether it's outdoor cycling or using a stationary bike, cycling provides a low-impact cardiovascular workout that is gentle on the joints.

  4. Swimming: A fantastic full-body workout that is easy on the joints. Swimming helps improve cardiovascular fitness, strength, and flexibility.

  5. Strength Training: Incorporating resistance exercises using your body weight, dumbbells, resistance bands, or weight machines can help build muscle strength and improve overall fitness. Exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, and planks are great starting points.

  6. Yoga: Enhance flexibility, balance, and strength while promoting relaxation and stress reduction through yoga. Attend a class or follow online tutorials to get started.

  7. Pilates: Focusing on core strength, stability, and flexibility, Pilates exercises can help improve posture, muscle tone, and body awareness.

  8. HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training): Short bursts of intense exercises alternated with short rest periods. HIIT workouts can be adapted to various exercises like jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers, and more.

  9. Dance Fitness: Zumba, aerobics, or dance-based workouts can be a fun way to improve cardiovascular fitness while grooving to your favorite music.

  10. Hiking: Take advantage of nature and explore trails while getting a great workout. Hiking offers both cardiovascular benefits and a chance to connect with the outdoors.

Remember, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional or fitness trainer before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have any underlying health conditions. Start at a comfortable level and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts as your fitness improves.