Is There A Connection Between Spin Classes + PCOS? Let’s Talk About It

A Types, beware. Stress, burnout, anxiety, and fatigue have become so normalized — especially for the modern woman who wants to have it all — that most of us don’t even realize that it isn’t a healthy way to operate. We’re spending more time at the office and on the go and – as a release – hitting our workouts even harder with HIIT, boot camp style workouts or intense hour-long spin classes. While tough workouts are not in and of themselves a bad thing what so ever, this cycle of overexertion can becomes a chronic pattern that, over time, wreaks havoc on our hormonal system.

Some pros are drawing a connection between strenuous exercise and a rise in women’s health issues. One of those experts is Dr. Anthony Gustin, a functional medicine pro whose recent podcast covered the connection between intense regular exercise and hormonal imbalance — specifically PCOS

The Pod: The Keto Answers Podcast is hosted by functional medicine pro, Dr. Anthony Gustin. In each episode, he digs in deep with a different health and fitness leader. Episode 036, features registered dietician and functional nutrition practitioner, Ali Miller. The two explore the topic of tough workouts and how they can aggravate stress and anxiety.

The message: Many people don’t realize the amount of stress their body is processing on a daily basis. We don’t realize that excessive HIIT workouts, specifically modern day spin classes can amp up the release of our stress hormone (cortisol) which just adds to the total volume of stressors we’re already exposed to in a day. Going hard all the time at the gym, drinking too much caffeine, restricting calories and not sleeping enough is a recipe for adrenal burnout and hormone irregularities that can somtimes lead to PCOS.

Ali Miller specifically calls out spin’s dark, hot room and lack of breaks as a potentially dangerous habit for those with adrenal issues.

The overly-restrictive burnout mode so many of us modern women have become accustomed to can be the catalyst to hormone imbalance, thyroid distress, hypothalamic amenorrhea (women losing their cycle) and other major issues. Intense exercise, specifically, can make the symptoms of PCOS worse, and constant physical stress can make the body cling to it’s fat stores and stop muscles from growing because it can’t distinguish a self-imposed stress from an external physical threat. Hormones can be thrown off from ongoing high levels of exertion even causing the body to avoid pregnancy. Progesterone can also wane and that can lead to a lot of other problems (estrogen dominance, testosterone dominance etc.).

Why We Loved It: When life is stressful, a good sweaty workout can feel like just the thing you need. But this podcast cautioned us to find balance and to schedule our workouts with a bit of caution during stressful periods. Learn to tune in to your body’s needs – taking time to rest is essential to overall health.

For women with intense lifestyles, Dr. Gustin recommends switching from high intensity spin classes to “gentle movement therapy” — moving the body out of a reactive mode into a regulatory mode. This also relates back to mindfulness – when you’re in a dark, loud spin class, it’s possible you’re not engaging your body correctly. The mind-body disconnect can impact your breath and lead to anxiety. Slow down, take it easy, and your body will take care of the rest.

What is your experience with spin and other high-intensity workouts? Do you ‘cycle’ them out of your routine during stressful times?

Discover more of our favorite health and wellness podcasts here.

The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. 
All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs. 

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