We All Know Exercise Is Important – Here’s Why
Aside from building strength and burning calories, daily movement and exercise of any kind has huge benefits for your overall health. No matter what the state of your hormones may be, regular activity is vital to supporting three functions in your body:
1. Regulating Insulin: Every time you eat, you provide your body with the raw materials it needs to produce energy as well as hormones and enzymes. The carbohydrates you consume are broken down into glucose, which is your main energy source. If your body senses too much glucose floating around, it will secrete the hormone insulin. Some level of insulin secretion is normal, but if you begin to create too much, your body might not be able to make the estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone it needs, since these hormones are in competition for the same raw materials. Regular exercise and movement throughout the day helps use up any excess glucose in the bloodstream to keep your insulin levels low and your hormones balanced.
2. Getting Your Lymphatic System Moving: The lymphatic system plays an important role in the body’s incredibly sophisticated detoxification process that is constantly working to remove things like cellular waste products and toxic substances. This system also plays an important role in the immune system, creating white blood cells that attack foreign invaders like viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Unlike the circulatory system, which relies on the heart to pump blood, the lymphatic system relies on movement and muscle contractions to transport lymphatic fluid. If you sit behind your desk all day, this fluid cannot be properly drained.
3. Detoxification: The body also sheds toxins and waste through bowel movements (BM). Regular BMs – on average, one per day is ideal – allow the body to remove material that is no longer needed, including metabolized hormones like estrogen. A sedentary lifestyle slows down digestion and can lead to constipation. If you’re constipated, those metabolized hormones might be reabsorbed into your system rather than eliminated from the body, which can create a hormonal imbalance.
Have a Hormonal Imbalance? We Have an Exercise Plan for You
Inactivity can disrupt your hormones, but so can many other factors that range from specific health conditions like PCOS and Hashimoto’s disease to lifestyle issues like exposure to endocrine disrupting hormones. With hormonal knowledge comes power – and a more concrete plan for how to use exercise to help bring your body back into balance. So, it’s a good idea to start by having your hormone levels tested so you know where you stand.
Once you have your hormone level results, adjust your exercise routine accordingly to help correct any imbalances and support your unique body.
High: For women with regular periods, estrogen is highest during the first half of the cycle, then falls during the second. But these levels can easily get out of whack. Many women discover they have high estrogen due to the influence of endocrine disrupting chemicals in our daily environments or imbalanced production by the body.
The key to getting rid of excess estrogen is to do everything you can to support your body’s natural detoxification efforts. Prioritize regular movement throughout your day rather than one long workout. Gentle to moderate intensity exercise is best as strenuous sweat sessions may increase cortisol levels and decrease progesterone. Get up from your desk frequently to get more water (hydration also boosts detoxification) and use the restroom. Schedule meetings or phone calls that can be done while walking outside, or use your lunch break to take a 20–40 minute stroll around the neighborhood. Put on some good music and dance around the kitchen while you cook. Exercise doesn’t always have to be structured and, in this case, any movement does your estrogen rebalancing efforts good.
Low: There are a variety of reasons why estrogen might be low, including being underweight. Because of this, if you receive a low estrogen test result or notice a disruption in your menstrual cycle, you might want to consider whether over-exercising or consuming too few nutrients is causing an issue.
Many women also see a drop in estrogen production as they near menopause. As you enter this stage of life, it’s important to prioritize weight bearing exercise to keep your bones strong, as a decrease in estrogen can lead to bone loss over time. In addition to strength training, this can include activities like yoga, hiking, walking, tennis, golf, or dancing. Aim for 30-60 minutes at least 5 days per week and incorporate a variety of types and intensities of exercise to keep your bones healthy and your muscles strong and flexible.