Exercise and Hormonal Health:
Let's get physical!

Unless you reside under a rock or live comfortably in denial, everyone knows that exercise is associated with good health and a decreased risk of disease.  Exercise is essential for building and sustaining muscle strength and bone density. Physical activity goes hand in hand with eating right to maintaining a healthy weight.  A daily sweat session can help stave off depression, improve focus, and nurtures consistent restful sleep. What you may not be aware of are the many benefits a good sweat can do for optimal hormonal balance. Let's get physical!

 


A systematic review of 19 control studies showed that women of all ages, fitness levels and BMI ranges had better sex hormone response than women who did not exercise.  As we age, beginning as early as our thirties, women become estrogen dominant. This gradual influx of estrogen is associated with a greater risk of breast cancer, as estrogen can trigger the production and growth of tumors.  Exercise helps mediate estrogen in two ways. First, exercise helps reduce overall body fat, which is a main source of estrogen production. Secondly, exercise releases binding proteins that block the absorption of free estrogen.  The study included all kinds of exercise from resistance training and cardio to yoga and ti-chi and all types of exercise were beneficial. In general, regular exercise is associated with a 25% reduced risk of breast cancer in healthy women.  Next time you slip on that sports bra for a workout, know that you’re supporting your bosom in more ways than one.

Some of us prefer to glow as opposed to going into beast mode.  That’s just fine because low impact exercise is a great solution for managing cortisol as well as getting a few more days out of your blow out.  When the body is taxed by stress and cortisol levels are elevated, moderate activity can help to metabolize some of the stress hormone without further depleting your energy and demanding more adrenaline.  On the days you’re feeling particularly stressed or on edge, choose yoga, mat Pilates, or barre class to encourage recovery. Vibe out at Y7 yoga and Exhale for low impact exercise and high impact positivity.  

For those who are a bit more advanced and worship at the Church of Fitness, this study suggests that consistent high-intensity training is beneficial for thyroid health when adequate rest and recovery are included in the training.  Overtraining is associated with elevated cortisol levels and inadequate T4 thyroid hormones. Over a sustained period of time, this could lead to prolonged fatigue and tissue breakdown which set the scene for injury. After high-intensity workouts like very long-distance running or heavy lifting, take 24-48 hours off.  A recovery day does not mean the same thing as no activity- low impact cardio, stretching, and mobility drills are ideal to maximize results. In New York, WillSpace combines movement, flexibility, and strength into a totally restorative experience.

The CDC’s Exercise Recommendations for Healthy Adults states that in order to achieve the health benefits associated with exercise, participate in “at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week”.  If you’re new to exercise and this sounds like a lot of activity ease into it, listen to your body, and stick with it! If you’re a fitness phenom, be in awe of all your body can do but make sure you rest and recover as needed. Need a little more motivation?