Can High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) be good for PCOS?

This is the workout routine with repeated bouts of high-intensity exercise and varied recovery (interval) times. In other words, you give all your effort to one particular exercise for a short period of time, followed by a period of rest.

Posted on January 2, 2023

What is HIIT ?

High Intensity Interval Training – This is the workout routine with repeated bouts of high-intensity exercise and varied recovery (interval) times. In other words, you give all your effort to one particular exercise for a short period of time, followed by a period of rest.

For example, 30 seconds of sprints followed by 30 seconds of rest; 45 seconds of fast jumping jacks followed by 30 seconds of rest. Usually, the total workout lasts from 4 to 20 minutes, and the intervals last from 10 seconds to 1 minute.

The exercises might be anything from body weight exercises to power lifting to plyometrics to sprints to playground games.

Let’s see how the HIIT works

HIIT exercise activates your cells, thereby activating them to do their functions or increasing the capacity of the muscles to respond to the signals that have been received by the hormones.

The following depicts the immediate result of HIIT : 


Benefits of HIIT

HIIT is presented as a time-effective training method that offers a number of health, fitness, and performance advantages.


There are several concerns with PCOS. Despite following a strenuous diet and medications, the major symptoms and potential risks seem to be present in the eye sight. The HIIT practice focuses on the major concerns of PCOS, which are insulin resistance, weight management, and hormonal imbalance, especially with androgens.

HIIT on insulin resistance 

Insulin sensitivity refers to a cell’s ability to absorb or receive glucose, which is not properly occurring in the case of PCOS. The cells continue to resist glucose absorption.

Practising exercise usually increases insulin resistance, among other benefits. HIIT practice results in a promising increase in insulin sensitivity of 23% to 58%. Regardless of the presence or absence of insulin, the contractions of the working muscle can activate the glucose shuttle transporters to take up glucose in the muscle.

HIIT on weight management 

HIIT may specifically help reduce belly fat reserves.

However, analysing individual benefits for clients from HIIT is more speculative and more representative of the overall weight management because body composition change is so reflective of the mix of nutritional intake, behaviour modification, and activity.

HIIT on hormonal imbalance

The most commonly altered hormones in PCOS are free testosterone (fT), total testosterone (TT), sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), the free androgen index (FAI), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulphate (DHEA-S), and androstenedione (A4). 

The research results show that after 12 weeks of following HIIT, the hormones fT, TT, and SHBG, in addition to DHEA-S, showed improved index scores.

(The research followed the HIIT with intense cycling, jogging, and walking)

 HIIT on menstruation 

Your delicate hormones are activated by intervals of hard exercise, and consistent exercise combined with the proper nutrition and medication helps to regulate the menstrual cycle.

The research shows that in women with PCOS, a 12-week HIIT programme combined with medication resulted in improvements in menstrual regulation. 

Who should try HIIT

HIIT is a great exercise choice for individuals of all ages who are in good physical condition. In general, everyone can perform HIIT as long as they are healthy and don’t have any injuries or medical conditions that prevent them from exercising. 

Based on research evidence, HIIT proves to be a beneficial strategy for women with PCOS since it helps improve major concerns of the condition such as insulin resistance, weight management, hormonal imbalance, and menstrual irregularities.

People with high blood pressure should start slowly and in intervals; eventually, it may normalise, and people with bone injuries or undergoing surgery should seek medical advice before proceeding. 


HIIT offers greater improvements in aerobic capacity, insulin sensitivity and menstrual cyclicity, and larger reductions in hyperandrogenism. But relying only on HIIT might lead you to nowhere. The equal concentration on diet, medications (if needed), exercise and stress management are essential to holistically manage PCOS and prevent further complications. 


1.Almenning, I., Rieber-Mohn, A., Lundgren, K. M., Shetelig Løvvik, T.,Garnæs, K. K., & Moholdt, T (2015). Effects of High IntensityInterval Training and Strength Training on Metabolic, Cardiovascular   and Hormonal Outcomes in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Pilot Study. PloS one, 10(9),e0138793.

2. Patten, R. K., McIlvenna, L. C., Levinger, I., Garnham, A. P.,Shorakae, S., Parker, A.  G., McAinch, A. J.,Rodgers, R. J., Hiam, D., Moreno-Asso, A., & Stepto, N. K. (2022). High-intensity training  elicits greater improvements in cardio-metabolic and reproductive outcomes than moderate-intensity training in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized clinical trial. Human  reproduction (Oxford, England), 37(5), 1018-1029.

3. Samadi, Z., Bambaeichi, E., Valiani, M., & Shahshahan, Z. (2019). Evaluation of Changes in Levels of Hyperandrogenism, Hirsutism and Menstrual Regulation After a Period of Aquatic High Intensity  Interval Training in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.    International journal of preventive medicine, 10, 187.

4. Kravitz, L. (2014). Metabolic effects of HIIT. IDEA Fitness Journal, Vol. 11, No. 5, 16-18.    T.html

5. Shele, G., Genkil, J., & Speelman, D. (2020). A Systematic Review of  the Effects of Exercise on Hormones in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Journal of Functional Morphology and  Kinesiology,5(2), 35.

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