Exercise plays an important role in protecting against hormone imbalance for both men and women. Not only does exercise initiate the release of hormones that affect metabolism, muscle mass and mood, it also influences how your body uses stored fat for energy and helps improve insulin response, which is crucial for maintaining healthy levels of hormones like testosterone. However, if you’re not careful, exercise can also create an excess of potentially harmful hormones like cortisol. Follow these simple tips and you’ll be well on your way to better health while avoiding unwanted hormone imbalance.
Keep it Short and Sweet
When it comes to hormone imbalance, too much exercise is actually detrimental! Intense, long-lasting bouts of exercise can be overkill because, after 40 minutes, your body’s cortisol levels begin to rise. Also known as the “stress hormone,” high levels of cortisol have been correlated with lower testosterone levels, and can actually begin to break down muscle.
So take it easy on your body: Shorten your exercise time and go with a gentler workout plan that incorporates both muscle training and cardio, like circuit training, to help avoid elevated cortisol levels. If you need a more intense workout, consider doing your weight training and cardio on different days to avoid workout sessions that are too long or taxing on your body.
Being a Heavyweight Helps Banish Hormone Imbalance
Studies show that doing fewer repetitions with heavier weights is the best way to boost your body’s levels of human growth hormone, an important hormone that governs cell reproduction and cell regeneration, and helps increase muscle mass. Weight training with heavier weights can also help increase testosterone levels. Testosterone helps increase energy, muscle mass, bone mass and bone density in women, while also supporting a healthy libido.
Chill Out with Yoga
Yoga is a great exercise for avoiding a hormone imbalance because it works your muscles—especially the core muscles—while also lowering cortisol levels. As a bonus, studies have shown that yoga reduces adrenaline, calming the “fight-or-flight” mode many of us find ourselves operating in on a daily basis. Yoga also helps boost mood and promote relaxation, and can even help maintain a healthy sex life! Incorporating yoga two or three times a week can be a great adjunct to your normal weight-training and cardio exercise program.
Take a Walk
According to a Temple University study, walking helps reduce menopause symptoms in women. Not only was walking shown to be a great boon for stress, a simple afternoon stroll was also shown to reduce the anxiety, depression and irritability associated with menopause. Other studies have shown that exercise such as walking can even help reduce the severity of physical menopause symptoms like hot flashes.