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How exercise helps balance hormones

Americans often turn to supplements and medications to treat hormone-related health issues like stress, depression, sleep deprivation, weight gain and mood swings. But the key to balancing your hormones may lie in boosting your physical activity. Hahns Petty, an exercise physiologist at Piedmont Atlanta Fitness Center, recommends exercise to enhance your quality of life and help regulate hormonal imbalances.

“In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven society, it is more important than ever to make time to exercise. Exercise is a productive outlet that stimulates feel-good transmitters that help boost overall well-being,” says Petty.

Hormones affected by exercise                    

  • Dopamine. Studies have proven exercise increases dopamine levels in the brain, which decreases stress and even depression. This chemical causes the famous “runners-high” because it enhances those “feel-good” transmitters. Increased dopamine also helps remove that “edgy” feeling stress creates, adds Petty.

  • Serotonin. Millions of Americans suffer from insomnia and sleep apnea, and turn to sleep aids for help. Instead, Petty recommends a healthy dose of exercise. Physical activity releases serotonin, which promotes a good night’s rest. Boosting serotonin levels can also positively impact mood, social behavior, appetite, digestion, memory and sexual function.

  • Testosterone. A man’s muscle mass, strength, sex drive, and sperm count are directly linked to his testosterone levels. As a man ages, testosterone naturally decreases. However, Petty says engaging in regular physical activity can help boost testosterone, which can slow the natural effects of aging.

  • Estrogen. The symptoms of menopause are in part driven by the imbalance and decline of estrogen. One way to combat this is to exercise. Getting your heart rate up for at least a half hour every day helps boost estrogen levels, which can help take the edge off of menopause symptoms.

Exercises that help boost hormone levels

Petty recommends a combination of strength training and cardio workouts to maximize health benefits and boost hormone levels. High-intensity exercises like squats, lunges, pull-ups, crunches and pushups are ideal, with minimal rest time in between. The more intense a workout, the more these hormones are released. Consistency is also key to retaining a steady flow of healthy hormones throughout your body.

“Exercise is a journey. Results do not occur overnight. The key is to remain focused on consistency. It’s not about how hard you work, it’s about sticking with it and making it a lifestyle rather than a binge,” says Petty.

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