Does Exercise Balance Your Hormones?
While it might be less common to work out in an effort to balance your hormones, it can be an amazing side effect of adopting a more active lifestyle. There are three overarching types of hormones that are impacted by exercise. First, there are the happy hormones, then anabolic hormones, and finally stress hormones.
Happy Hormones: Dopamine, Serotonin, and Endorphins
Happy hormones impacted by exercise include dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. Dopamine is our pleasure hormone which comes in handy with learning, motor skills, and memory. Serotonin, on the other hand, is a mood-stabilizing hormone that affects your well-being and overall happiness. It also helps with sleep, digestion, and appetite. Last but definitely not least, endorphins are the most common hormones associated with exercise because they are nature’s painkillers. They also contribute to the feeling of a “runner’s high” after working out.
Anabolic Hormones: Growth Hormone, Testosterone, Estrogen, and Insulin
Anabolic hormones are the ones that help you grow and build muscle. The four types of anabolic hormones affected by movement are: human growth hormone (HGH), testosterone, estrogen, and insulin. HGH is necessary for muscle growth, metabolism, cell repair, and body composition. Testosterone, as you may have heard, is a hormone present in everyone that controls muscle mass and bone strength. Estrogen is also present in everyone and is in charge of cognitive and cardiovascular health. Finally, insulin is the hormone that regulates your blood sugar, protein, and carbs to give your body the energy it needs.
Stress Hormones: Cortisol, Adrenaline, and Thyroid
The last set of hormones we’ll cover are the stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline, and thyroid. Cortisol is the most commonly known stress hormone which increases the amount of sugar in your bloodstream when you wake up, exercise, or are experiencing acute stress. Adrenaline is the “fight or flight” response our body enters when we are feeling threatened, excited, or you’re exercising. Finally, thyroid hormones are the control center for your metabolism and body temperature.
Exercises to Balance Your Hormones
Now that we’ve covered the hormones that get involved when you’re working out, below are some exercises you can do at home or at the gym to balance your hormone levels.
-HIIT for HGH and Insulin Sensitivity
For a quick and easy high-intensity-interval training workout, do 30 seconds of sprints and 45 seconds of rest for 15-20 minutes, 2-3 times a week. This will help increase the amount of human growth hormone and improve your sensitivity to insulin.
-Strength Training for Sex Hormones and Cortisol
Lifting weights or using your bodyweight for exercises can help balance your levels of cortisol and prevent them from getting too high. Strength training also imrpvoes the release of sex hormones testosterone and estrogen. Make sure to do a full body routine with push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, and squats 2-3 times a week.
-Walking for Endorphins and Stress Hormones
Going on a brisk walk for half an hour, 3-5 times a week will help you feel the release of endorphins and lower stress hormone levels overall.
-Yoga for Stress Hormones and Cortisol
Doing Hatha yoga for relaxation or doing Vinyasa yoga for intensity can help you lower your stress hormone levels and balance the level of stress hormone cortisol in your body.
For more ideas for how to format your hormone-balancing workouts, check out this infographic from Adidas.
This blog post was written by Mitali Shukla.