Hormones and Exercise…A Key Factor For Your Health


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Understanding the effects of exercise is key to understanding the relationship between insulin and glucagon. As your activity level increases, glucose uptake by the body’s cells also increases. This is because of an increased sensitivity of the cells to the insulin. Insulin levels will drop during physical activity. At the same time glucagon secretion by the pancreas increases to help maintain a steady supply of blood glucose.

Understanding Your Hormones

Catecholamines: There are two catecholamines, epinephrine or aka “adrenaline” and norepinephrine. These are hormones produced by the adrenal glands, which are located on top of each kidney. These hormones help prepare the body for activity. These hormones are part of the stress response also know as fight or flight response. In preparation for activity, the part of the brain called the hypothalamus, triggers the adrenal glands to secrete more epinephrine (adrenaline). This will give you several physiological effects that will help your body sustain exercise activity. Some of these include: elevates blood glucose levels, helps to redistribute blood to working tissues, opens up the airways and increases heart rate and stroke volume.

Testosterone and Estrogen: For both males and females testosterone plays a vital role in growth and repair of tissue. Raised levels of testosterone are indicative of an anabolic training status (tissue-building). Estrogen has many functions, but it mainly influences fat deposition around the hips, butt, and thighs. Regular exercise lowers estrogen levels, which in turn lowers your risk for such problems like breast cancer and added hormonal fat.

Cortisol: Cortisol is typically referred to as a catabolic hormone. This means it is associated with tissue breakdown. Under times of stress, such as exercise, cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands and works to maintain energy supply through breaking down carbohydrates, fats, and protein. High levels of cortisol brought on by overtraining, excessive stress, poor sleep, and bad nutrition can lead to breakdown of muscle tissue, along with other harmful side effects.

Growth Hormone: Growth Hormone is released from the pituitary gland in the brain and is regulated by the hypothalamus. Growth hormone is activated by several factors like: estrogen, testosterone, deep sleep, and active exercise. Primarily, Growth Hormone is an anabolic hormone that is responsible for most of the development and growth during childhood. Once one hits puberty the sex hormones take over from there. Growth Hormone increases strengthens the immune system, increases fat burning, increases bone development, muscle tissue, and protein synthesis.

Thyroid Hormones: The thyroid gland releases vital hormones that are mainly responsible for the human metabolism. The pituitary gland regulates the release of the thyroid hormones. The thyroid is responsible for regulating many systems in our bodies. Some of these systems it regulates are: basal metabolic rate, body temperature, breathing rate, heart rate, protein synthesis, metabolizing carbohydrates, fat and protein. Low thyroid function is a well-known disorder which causes fatigue, depression, weight gain, sensitivity to cold and low metabolism.

Research shows that after strength training and active aerobic exercise, testosterone and growth hormone levels increase, while estrogen levels decrease. Research has also shown that there can be negative effects after intense prolonged endurance training. It could lead to lower testosterone levels and a rise in cortisol levels. Exercising has a significant impact on hormone secretions and it is important to understand how they work. Having knowledge of these hormones can greatly improve your health.


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