Researchers report that moderate exercise can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce diabetes risk in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The syndrome is characterized by irregular periods, acne, and excess facial and body hair, caused by a hormonal imbalance that results in excess levels of the male hormone androgen.
PCOS affects between 6% and 10% of US women of childbearing age, and these women often have chronic weight problems, with the excess weight accumulating in the abdomen. Some affected women, however, have trouble shedding this extra weight.
The study, conducted, included 19 sedentary women with PCOS between 22 and 41 years of age who were all insulin-resistant. They were divided into 2 groups. One group did moderate exercise (such as walking briskly for 1 hour, 4 days a week). The other remained inactive. Neither group lost weight nor changed their eating habits, yet insulin resistance declined by 25% in the exercise group.