Aug 27, 2019
Exercise in Hormone Balance: more than going for a walk
Exercise influences hormones. Hormones influence exercise. You, already know this. I’ve said it before here at Flipping 50. But you already know because there are days you don’t feel like exercising, or you feel like the mirror isn’t reflecting the consistent hard work you’ve done.
And it feels relative to hormone changes. Whether you knew you were in perimenopause or not– that period of time lasting up to 10 years for some women, you realize that other things were changing too.
Your skin seemed to be thinning, maybe showing more signs of wrinkles or more cellulite than you had before. You may deal with both breakouts and fine lines during this time. You notice more hair loss in the shower.
So is the answer hormone replacement? What if you are and you’re still not feeling 100%? It doesn’t do all the heavy lifting, or shouldn’t. And you’ve got a lot more control than we ever might have known. The foods you eat, or don’t, the sleep habits you have, or don’t, the way you handle stress or don’t, and exercise type and timing play a factor.
Exercise in hormone balance course: episode sponsor
This episode is sponsored by The After 50 Fitness Formula for Women course, it’s my signature course and companion to You Still Got It, Girl! the book. In it I teach you module by module how foods have an effect on hormones, how stress influences hormones, and sleep, and of course exercise.
One thing I know better than anything after 35 years in fitness primarily working with women over 40 from the very beginning? We want to know WHY and so we can connect the dots to why it’s important to do this in the HOW we’re being taught so we understand the reason to commit to doing it.
What I Believe About You
There’s no lack of motivation or discipline. I just don’t buy into that. There’s usually a belief about what, how, and why something works that either propels you or stands in your way. Right now during this After 50 Fitness Formula course anniversary you get not just the 8 modules Plus a bonus module demonstrating examples of exercise, you get:
THEN I’ve created 5 bonuses you get NOW… but it they go away Labor Day weekend so get in now!
These extras opened August 20th… join now and get started to get them all…! The daily tips 20th-Sept 15th will help you get a strong start by working on your beliefs about exercise, hormones, and menopause.
***Bonuses will be available for a limited amount of time and not a part of the course long term. So you’ll have longer to watch them when you get in right away before they disappear September 15. You can only get in if you start by LABOR DAY!
So enough on that, let’s talk specifically about exercise and hormone balance.
So, you are more in control than you may have thought. And it’s less complicated than you think. So this episode is about really unraveling the hormones we’ve got changing most, what they do or did, and don’t without help as they decrease…and how exercise can help.
First let’s look at the role of sex hormones in the body. Then we’ll look at how exercise influences hormones.
1.Grows the lining in the uterus so that the fertilized egg can implant.
2.Increases collagen production in the entire body, most notably in the blood vessels, skin, vagina and bladder.
3.Maintains cardiovascular elasticity and blood flow.
4.Prevents the body from losing bone densityby inhibiting osteoclasts.
5.Increases vaginal lubrication and sex drive.
6.Augments sexual desire.
7.Fuels fat metabolism.
8.Facilitates mental health by increasing serotonin and dopamine in the brain.
9.Stimulates the production of progesterone, testosterone, thyroid, and more estrogen receptors.
10.Modulates adrenaline levels.
12.Modulates immune functions.
13.Increases melatonin levels.
1.At its peak, stimulates apoptosis (cell death/anti-cancer).
2.Increases bone density.
4.Lowers blood pressure.
6.Acts as a natural diuretic.
7.Improves insulin sensitivity.
8.Increases GABA secretion.
9.Is a precursor to cortisol, and all the steroid hormones.
10.Modulates immune functions.
1.Plays a role in healthy heart and blood.
2.Supports a body to makeless fat, more muscle.
4.Improves verbal memory, spatial abilities and mathematical reasoning.
5.Improves libido& erectile function.
With hormone decline, physical health may deteriorate, mental wellness decreases, and chronic diseases may creep in. At least this is what you’ve been taught and the correlation that has been true until now. Until this time when more of us have been exercising for decades or are starting now.
This is important: understand that the science that’s collected data up until now is looking at the past. It is not looking at your future.
What if you chose not to believe it?
During the recession, about 14 years ago I heard a speaker get up and talk about just how much we were hearing how bad the economy was at the time. She began with, “what if we decided not to participate?” I challenge you to think the same.
What if you decided not to participate in what you were told is coming with menopause and with aging? What if you rejected it? Instead, what if you went on believing you could enjoy an even more vibrant life now because of your life experience and wisdom and personal insight into what makes you happy?
Physical changes may include:
1.Increased resting heart rate
2.Rise in blood pressure
4.Decrease in short term memory function
5.Changes in body fat distribution and composition
6.Thinning hair on head, arms, legs, and pubic area
7.Increased facial hair
8.Blood chemistry changes such as:
How did that list make you feel?
Think about it?
If it makes you feel like you’re fighting a war, it should. It’s not much of a party, right?
I encourage you to reject the idea these things WILL happen, or that if they do they are permanent.
They are merely signs and symptoms. Signs that you indeed are having changing hormones. Changing hormonesis a part of the evolution of a woman’s life whether they occur at menopause or with surgery.
You can opt to change. Change exercise. Change nutrition. Change lifestyle habits and break old patterns that will no longer work for you (hint: they weren’t working for you… you were lucky).
What do I mean by lucky?
The science we had decades ago was the best we had. But if 39% of all sports medicine and exercise research features females right now, imagine the low percent that featured females 30 years ago.
Exercise plays a role in balancing these hormones and their reactions IF we use an exercise prescription that is HORMONE BALANCING, and not all people all the time.
Mass bootcamps with all ages and levels … is very attractive to gyms and trainers. Let’s pack them in and charge a nominal rate but with dozens in a session it’s still a huge win. The energy and excitement is contagious. Unfortunately, injury rates climbed. There is no modification when it’s one or two trainers to 2, 4, or 6 dozen attendees. When others are driven you are driven and yet, that isn’t what every hormone imbalance needs.
Classes are no different. Groups of 25 or 30 adults coming together to do either a workout dictated by the instructor’s mood or energy, or a pre-scripted program may not be what any individual needs at the moment. Once you know how hard you need to work and what kind of workout you need, group may work well for you. You know you and then you can choose the best options – and frequency for yourself.
Let's talk about weight training.
Why Weight Training Exercise for Hormone Balance
Weight training is one of the absolute best things you can do for your hormone balance. Specifically targeting growth hormone, testosterone, cortisol, and insulin, with strength training you can introduce exercise without a sweat if that’s something you can do without.
Though estrogen isn’t necessarily effected by weight training, it’s effects are addressed as bone density losses are slowed by weight training (and only weight training).
There’s more. Additional hormones positively influenced by strength training are endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. Though aerobic activity has always been associated with endorphins, don’t overlook strength training because the benefits seem to be equal. These hormones also bump cognitive performance long term. After a year of strength training women improved on executive planning abilities (problem solving and memory). There’s also a reduction in anxiety and depression.
High volume lower-to-moderate intensity sets with short breaks works.
Low-volume, high intensity sets with longer rest intervals works better.
If you’re scared, just starting, opt for the high volume. Progress as you can (and assess on a joint by joint basis) to heavier weights for optimum hormone, bone, and muscle benefit.
STRONGER I is a moderate to heavier and STRONGER III is a lighter weight higher volume program for both beginners and for developing “cut” or definition.
HIIT or S.I.T. (sprint interval training)
Focus on an aerobic (or higher intensity which is referred to as anaerobic when you can’t sustain for periods longer than 30 seconds) with intermittent recovery periods. The total sessions should last 20-30 minutes at most. Weekly total HIIT times should be 45 minutes or less. After that time injury rates increase and benefits decrease. The body needs recovery from hard work in order to reap benefits.
Prolonged endurance activity
Disruption of the endocrine system tends to occur at varying levels for individuals. It is more common however in women who focus uniquely on endurance exercise without weight training or HIIT, and or who only add rather than removing to find a balance between activity.
Time of day to exercise
Intense early and light late is the Flipping 50 guideline. Testosterone levels are naturally higher in the morning. Strength and HIIT sessions that occur early also work with natural healthy cortisol patterns.
Late day cortisol drops but your body is warm and loose. It’s the perfect time for “light late” activity like stretching and yoga or a light walk. If you need to accommodate your schedule, later in the day is fine for weight training.
Keep your exercise pre-dinner. Avoid any exercise within 4 hours of bedtime.
How hard when it’s high intensity?
The key to benefits from Interval Training is high enough intensity. There’s got to be metabolic demand sufficient enough to cause change. That is why Flipping 50 recommends always reaching fatigue when you’re focused on body composition, metabolism, and positive hormone influence of exercise.
Fatigue during strength training is getting to a repetition that truly is the last one you can do. During intervals that is breathless. If you’re not doing either of those, you’re not influencing your metabolic-driven hormones and won’t experience the beneficial changes.
Whether you want to boost libido, regain lost muscle tone, decrease fat, increase muscle mass to boost metabolism, or regulate blood sugar levels, proper intensity, in other words, training with purpose, not just random exercise is your goal.
Which hormones, again? These matter significantly.
Testosterone slowly declines in women leading to menopause and then can drastically drop off. Bye bye libido and maybe your confidence at work. Increased testosterone can be induced by resistance training. Again, provided the stimulus is intense enough.
Growth hormone and testosterone have been examined for their role in boosting strength or muscle mass. Especially among body builders. The actual role of them is backward. Resistance training improves levels of growth hormone and testosterone, not the other way around.
Increases in growth hormone benefit collagen synthesis and fat burning. Testosterone as stated above supports better libido and energy. Both GH and testosterone support more muscle and lower fat.
Resistance training supports the fountain of youth.
If you're looking for support and understanding the science behind what's true and what's just always been accepted.. I'd love to see you in the course.
Kraemer W, Ratamess N. Hormonal responses and adaptations to resistance exercise and training. Sports Med 2005;35(4):339-361.
Herbert P, Hayes L, Sculthorpe N, Grace F. HIIT produces increases in muscle power and free testosterone in male masters athletes. Endocr Connect 2017;6(7):430-436.
Hackney A, Aggon E. Chronic low testosterone levels in endurance trained men: the exercise-hypogonadal male condition. pii:103 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29882545
Copeland J, Consitt LA, Tremblay M. Hormonal responses to endurance and resistance exercise in females aged 19-69 years. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2002;57(4):B158-B165.
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