Exercise has many positive effects on the endocrine system. For example, strength training, or other heavy lifting exercises stimulate the release of luteinizing hormone from the pituitary gland, which goes on to stimulate testosterone. This is true for both men and women - as you may remember from previous posts, us ladies need testosterone too – it is vital for fertility, sex drive and optimizing our menstrual cycle. Testosterone also helps to maintain a healthy weight.
Exercise also helps to improve the regulation of another very important hormone – insulin. Exercise improves insulin signaling and improves insulin sensitivity. This means that the body doesn’t have to work so hard, and that blood sugar is better regulated.
In addition to testosterone and insulin, other hormones such as cortisol, estrogen, human growth hormones and progesterone are also affected by exercise. The Parsley Health Company explains that exercise is one of the ways we can communicate with our body, and that it’s a balancing act. Exercise of any kind causes stress on the body, but we need to just the right amount.
Unfortunately, excessive intensity and/or volume of training can negatively affect our homeostasis, and is associated with inappropriate endocrine hormonal responses.1 Therefore, it’s important that we listen to our body and not fall into a trap where we are over exercising. There are also tools on the market that can help with this. A heart rate variability (HRV) monitor, such as the Whoop strap, which is worn like a watch, is one such tool. The Whoop strap provides data obtained from your fitness, sleep and recovery, and can help you decide whether or not you should be exercising, or how intensely.
Just like most things in life, fitness is about balance. We want to make sure we’re getting enough, but not too much!
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