The Effect of Exercise on Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Annabelle Breyley-Smith, Aya Mousa, Helena J. Teede, Nathan A. Johnson, Angelo Sabag

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a common endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age, increases the risk for cardiometabolic morbidity. While regular exercise is effective in reducing cardiometabolic risk, women with PCOS may experience condition-specific barriers to exercise thereby limiting its efficacy. Aim: To determine the effect of exercise on cardiometabolic risk factors in women with PCOS. Methods: Five databases (Cochrane, EMBASE, Medline, Scopus and SPORTDiscus) were searched up to December of 2021. Eligible studies included: a randomised controlled design; participants with a diagnosis of PCOS; aerobic and/or resistance exercise intervention lasting ≥4 weeks; cardiometabolic outcomes. Meta-analyses were performed to determine the effect of exercise versus non-exercising control on cardiometabolic outcomes. Results: Of the 4517 studies screened, 18 studies were analysed involving 593 participants. When compared with control, exercise significantly improved cardiorespiratory fitness (weighted mean difference {WMD} = 4.00 mL/kg/min, 95% CI: 2.61 to 5.40, p < 0.001) and waist circumference (WMD = −1.48 cm, 95% CI: −2.35 to −0.62, p = 0.001). Systolic blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, insulin resistance, and lipid profiles remained unchanged. Conclusions: Regular exercise may improve cardiorespiratory fitness and waist circumference in women with PCOS. Further large-scale studies are required to determine whether exercise interventions improve various biochemical and anthropometric parameters in women with PCOS and more severe cardiometabolic abnormalities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1386
Number of pages30
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • Cardiometabolic health
  • Cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Physical activity
  • Waist circumference
  • Women’s health

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