10 Ways Exercise Promotes Hormonal Balance
Dr. Renuka Dangare

Dr. Renuka Dangare

Feb 22Fitness

10 Ways Exercise Promotes Hormonal Balance

This article is compiled by Sanjana Varma, a freelance writer of Proactive For Her.

The Importance Of Exercise

When we think of exercise, we tend to think of the benefits it has on our mood and energy levels, as well as our physical health. However, exercise can have an even more subtle effect on our bodies, specifically on the hormonal level. There are numerous ways in which workouts can affect your hormones.

Workouts can

  • Improve how you handle stress
  • Regulate insulin
  • Improve your sex drive
  • Reduce your risk of breast cancer

It has been found that moderate levels of optimum exercise are enough to have a healthy life. Low or high levels can prove harmful to you. Exercise balances all aspects of the body like your mental health, energy level, and sleep.

Here are 10 ways hormone levels are affected by exercise.

1. It increases Endorphins

Endorphins or your “happy hormones” are secreted from the pituitary gland that blocks pain, creates a feeling of euphoria and reduces anxiety. Getting your heart rate up can boost your endorphin levels! Regular exercise over time will lead to an increased sensitivity to endorphins. This in time helps you to exercise for longer periods without pain or fatigue.

The functions of endorphins include:

  • They help in reducing pain
  • Wards off anxiety and depression
  • Improves sleep
  • Boosts self-esteem
  • Increases and encourages physical activeness
  • Make activities more pleasurable
  • They help in treating trauma and surgery
  • It stabilizes blood pressure
  • Enhances the functioning of the immune system
  • Makes you look fit and healthy

2. It regulates Estrogen

Estrogen is the female sex hormone and is mainly responsible for the regulation of the female reproductive system, breast development, menstrual cycle and reproduction.

Estrogen plays an important role in:

  • Controlling the menstrual cycle
  • Maintaining cholesterol level
  • Controlling your moods
  • Protecting your bones

Estrogen dominance in your body after 35 years will increase your risk of developing breast cancer. Maintaining a steady exercise routine can prevent this.

3. It regulates Cortisol

Cortisol, a.k.a your stress hormone is secreted from the adrenal glands in response to stress. It controls mood, motivation, and fear response. Mental stress (due to work pressure), emotional stress (relationship related), physical stress (exercise), or environmental stress (toxins) are all forms of stress that cause your body to increase the production of cortisol.

Cortisol is responsible for the fight or flight response. It informs your body of imminent danger, thereby, increasing blood pressure, elevating heart rate and releasing glucose into the bloodstream from the liver. Over time, this will wreak havoc on your metabolism.

Overproduction of cortisol causes fatigue. Regular exercise can be very helpful in regulating cortisol. Low- intensity exercises are found effective in lowering cortisol levels, whereas, high intensity causes the opposite effect.

4. It improves Insulin sensitivity

Exercise prevents insulin resistance. Insulin is responsible for the utilization of energy stored in our body in the form of sugar (glucose).

Insulin balance and blood glucose regulation go hand-in-hand, and elevated blood glucose has been shown to slow down fat utilization. Maintaining a healthy insulin balance is important for metabolism. This limits fatty deposits in the liver, also known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Regular workouts can improve your metabolism. HIIT improves insulin sensitivity, but if you have a high cortisol level, then you should consider choosing brisk aerobic exercises.

5. It stimulates the production of Testosterone

Testosterone is an important hormone responsible for muscle growth and maintenance, increasing metabolism, and boosting overall confidence. It regulates the menstrual cycle, libido, keeps your heart, bones and muscles strong. Low testosterone in women can cause mood changes, decrease libido and low energy. 20 minutes of exercise daily can take care of your testosterone levels. Over time, a regular workout routine may help to keep your testosterone at the required level.

For those dealing with PCOS, exercise isn’t likely to worsen your testosterone levels. Infact exercise will help reduce obesity and that in turn reduces the levels of free testosterone and inflammatory cytokines within the body.

6. It stimulates Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

Human growth hormone is naturally produced in the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain. It plays a vital role in cell regeneration, growth and maintaining healthy human tissue, including that of the brain and various vital organs. HGH is responsible for increased muscle strength, better fracture healing, enhanced weight loss, stronger bones and reduced cardiovascular disease risk.

Exercise can help boost the production of the human growth hormone, but it requires some high-intensity workouts. You need to slowly build your strength and stamina before you start high-intensity workouts.

7. It increases Irisin

Irisin is a recently discovered hormone in people who exercise. Research suggests that increased irisin helps turn white fat into brown fat, which is good for the body and helps to regulate body temperature. The functions of Irisin include:

  • Balancing blood sugar and fighting diabetes
  • Weight loss improvement
  • Supporting the skeletal system
  • Anti-aging effects
  • Anti-cancer effects
  • Protects the heart, brain, and vascular system
  • Anti-Inflammatory and antioxidant properties
  • Antidepressant
  • Increases brain function and motivation
  • Endurance and strength training is found to increase irisin in your body effectively.

8. It increases Adiponectin

Adiponectin is secreted by fat cells and regulates glucose and fat breakdown. It is a protein hormone that plays a role in protecting against insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. It has anti-inflammatory properties, strengthens muscles, and protects the heart. Aerobic exercise and core workouts cause significant increases in adiponectin levels.

9. It can improve thyroid hormone balance

Exercise has a profound effect on thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones are the main metabolic hormone in the body. It is produced by the thyroid gland, located in the throat, in response to thyroid-stimulating hormone(TSH) that comes from the pituitary gland.

Thyroid hormones regulate growth and development, metabolism, and body temperature. Thyroid imbalance can cause insulin resistance, fatigue, depression, weight gain/loss, hamper menstrual cycle and reproduction in women. Regular exercise along with thyroxine treatment will improve your condition.

10. Promote body positivity

Exercise is not just a means of weight loss. Exercise is necessary for a healthy mind and body. In this world where the fat-loss craze is at its peak, you must understand that being healthy is necessary. Exercise regularly to keep your mind and body in sync!

Body positivity allows you to love yourself the way you are. It helps you challenge unreal expectations set by social media and improve your mental health. Workout releases happy hormones(endorphins) which increases your self-image and confidence.

Final thoughts: Be on the move

Exercise and physical activity are great ways to feel better, boost your health, and have fun. It can strengthen your body, improve sleep, improve endurance, keep diseases at bay, slow down the ageing process and improve your moods. In short, exercise can make you cultivate a body-positive attitude. A skinny body doesn't always mean healthy.

You must choose an activity that is suitable for your body and needs. Starting with HIIT is not recommended if you haven’t built endurance and strength. Start small, choose accomplishable goals, and move forward. Join workout groups in gyms to push you forward. Enlist the help of a trainer if you don’t want to work out alone. Group training can be fun and help you push forward even on your bad days.

Give your body breaks to adjust to the routine. Use stairs instead of elevators and stick to healthy diets. Smartwatches and apps on the phone will help you keep track of your progress and motivate you. Remember that health is wealth, it is the currency to live your life to the fullest. Be on the move, just never give up! You can do it!

This information is provided for educational purposes and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare practitioners before undertaking any changes in your diet or adding supplements.

We at Proactive aim at creating a world-class medical experience for Indian women and adopt gold standards in every healthcare initiative whether it’s a teleconsultation or a webinar. What sets us apart from the rest is our liberal, convenient, and holistic approach to healthcare.

Proactive for her is a digital clinic for women, offering accessible, personalized, and confidential health-care solutions. We offer products and services for out-patient health concerns of Indian women, across their lifetime - from puberty to pregnancy to menopause. To know more on the sexual and reproductive health of women, visit https://www.proactiveforher.com/