This article was previously published on March 1, 2017.
Hormonal imbalance–the phrase strikes fear in hearts of women everywhere–and for good reason. Unbalanced hormones can wreak havoc on your health and life since a variety of hormones play such a major role in your body. A wide range of hormonal imbalance woes exist, including problems maintaining a healthy weight due to insulin resistance, increased fat storage, and cravings. If that weren’t ugh enough, an imbalance can cause less visible symptoms including anxiety depression, fatigue, and reduced sex drive.
In short, getting your hormones under control can be life-changing. While your doctor could provide solutions in the form of medication, it’s also possible to achieve balance through a lifestyle change. One study shows that exercise greatly impacts a number of hormones, affecting levels of cortisol, prolactin, growth hormone, and testosterone. Although you should not overdo it, follow these exercise tips to help keep control of your hormone levels–and feel your best!
While cardio is important, it’s also key to include resistance training within your exercise routine. A study in Sports Medicine found that this type of exercise has a great impact on hormones. Note: the greatest hormonal surges happened with training that used a large amount of muscle and had a medium- to high-intensity level with a high volume and quick rest intervals. So think: HIIT, full-body exercises (squats, lunges, burpees, push-ups, etc)!
An American Physiological Society study found that women had the best results with increasing biologically active growth hormone when they engaged in moderate to heavy weight-training routines with fewer repetitions, and when they stuck with long-term training. Researchers noted that long-term training helps control metabolic function and that using heavier weights within strength programs is beneficial.
Bottom line: Including weight training in your routine can help your body better regulate hormones.
Another factor related to weight training is whether or not to combine it with aerobic exercise, and how. Circuit training may be beneficial for hormonal balance. This type of training includes circuits that combine a few high-intensity exercises that you quickly cycle through, and you can combine aerobic and strength training exercises within a circuit. A study in Hormone and Metabolic Research found that circuit training improved insulin sensitivity in a small group of people with an impaired glucose tolerance. If you do this type of exercise, try to only rest for a short period of time between circuits.
Also, the order in which you perform strength training and aerobic exercise can affect your hormones. A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that both testosterone and cortisol went up whether participants started their workout sessions with strength training or aerobics. Nonetheless, performing aerobics before strength training showed the best hormonal results, with testosterone gradually going up during the strength training session at the end. This was a better result than the falling testosterone level found during aerobic exercise when the participants started with strength training.
Bottom line: Try circuit training or doing aerobics prior to strength training to improve hormonal balance.
While yoga may seem too relaxing to provide many benefits within an exercise plan, it has a strong impact on your body, including your hormones. Via its various poses, yoga provides bodyweight resistance training, which can help regulate hormones. Yet yoga goes far beyond that benefit with its numerous effects on hormones. These include: calming adrenalin, encouraging the production of Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which calms the nervous system, and controlling blood cortisol levels. Yoga can be a great choice to add to other forms of exercise. Also, there are different types of yoga: Ones like flow yoga or power yoga can offer an aerobic workout within the yoga session while types like Hatha yoga provide more of the relaxing and stress-relieving benefits.
Bottom line: Yoga is a multi-tasking hormonal balance hero!
Exercise should be an important part of a lifestyle change designed to regulate hormones. It provides a natural way to improve hormones, which will create benefits to many aspects of your physical and mental health.
Have you experienced the awesome benefits of exercise for hormonal balance?
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