Exercise and Hormone Imbalance
Hormones are the body’s main signalling systems. They have profound effects on our mental, physical, and emotional health, and they regulate everything from sex drive to metabolism, weight, mood, sleep, and fertility, among others. However, hormonal imbalances have become more common with today’s modern lifestyle and for others, hormones decline dramatically with age.
While hormone therapy is an option to restore balance, one natural way is through exercise. Here are some of the types of hormones and how exercise can improve their performance.
Irisin, or also referred to as the “exercise hormone,” fights fats with a one-two punch. First, by activating genes that turn white fat into good brown fat and second, by promoting stem cells’ differentiation into bone-forming cells. When you exercise, your body produces irisin. According to a study in the journal, PLoS One involving overweight women, single sessions of both intense endurance exercise and strength training increased irisin.
Estrogens are a group of sex hormones that promote the development and maintenance of female characteristics in the human body. They also regulate the menstrual cycle and reproductive system and affect bone health, cholesterol, and more. Most women, especially those starting around age 35, develop estrogen dominance, or excessive production of the hormone. Exercise is one of the best ways to reverse this trend, leading to lower the risk of breast cancer for premenopausal and postmenopausal women alike.
Testosterone is the male sex hormone, but women’s bodies also produce this in smaller amounts. It helps with muscle growth and repair, particularly muscle proteins that were damaged by exercise. Exercise stimulates the production of testosterone in women’s bodies and it boosts sex drive, increases muscle mass, and reduces belly fat.
Human growth hormone (HGH)
Another multitasker hormone, HGH contributes to muscle and bone strength, and it regulates fat metabolism. Our body releases HGH periodically, especially during sleep but there are exercises that help stimulate its production, especially high intensity workouts that involve serious resistance.
This hormone is also referred to as the “stress hormone.” It helps regulate the body’s stress response. When cortisol levels increase, it stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, prompting the body to fight off some form of imminent danger. This increases your blood pressure, heart rate, and glucose levels, which can wreak havoc on your metabolism. High intensity exercise done when cortisol levels are high can add more stress to an already stressed system. Reducing the intensity of the workout will help the body to recover sooner, lowering cortisol.
Healthy diet and lifestyle changes may help improve your hormonal health and allow you to feel and perform your best. Here are some of our tips on how to cure hormonal imbalance in females:
Eat enough proteins
Dietary proteins provide amino acids that your body cannot make on its own. These proteins are needed to maintain muscle, bone, and skin health. Consumption of adequate protein triggers the production of hormones that suppress appetite and make you feel full.
Lift heavier weights
Don’t be afraid to lift heavier weights. Just be cautious and use proper form to avoid injuries. Lifting heavier weights tones the muscle and boosts growth hormone much more than those lighter weights women tend to go for. Short, interval cardio sessions are also good for the body. Intervals mean short periods of high intensity exercise followed by a period of rest or lightened activity.
Walk it off
According to a study published in the journal Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, walking outdoors can help balance hormones, particularly the stress hormone, cortisol. It also reduces blood pressure, heart rate, and boost the immune system.
Research has shown that you may be able to reduce cortisol levels by engaging in stress-reducing techniques like meditation, yoga, massage, and listening to relaxing music. One of the benefits of yoga for women is that it can reduce adrenaline and stimulate the brain-calming chemical, GABA. So if you have excess belly fat, problem sleeping or anxiety, yoga is a good workout choice.
Get consistent, uninterrupted sleep
Eating healthy foods or exercising alone will not help you balance your hormones. You still need to get enough restorative sleep to stay healthy. Poor sleep has been associated with imbalances of several hormones including insulin, cortisol, leptin, ghrelin, and growth hormone. Your brain needs uninterrupted sleep, as it lets your brain go through all the five stages of each sleep cycle. This helps the release of growth hormone, which mainly occurs during deep sleep at night.