How Exercise Affects your Hormones
We often hear runners say they are going out for a run to relax while some people need to go to the gym after a rough day at work. Why is this? What is it about exercising that makes us feel so good that is it down right addicting? The answer is simple. It’s our hormones.
Exercise and your hormones are released into the body. These hormones activate different parts of the brain regulating mood, pain, hunger as well as muscle growth and repair. Each hormone is extremely effective, so it is easy to see why exercise is not only good for your body, but also good for your mind.
One of the primary hormones released during a workout are endorphins. Endorphins are a chemical release by your pituitary gland which makes you feel exhilarated and happy. It also blocks any feelings of pain so you can power through the majority of discomfort caused by exercising. Endorphins have the nickname of a “runner’s high” because of its uplifting and addictive qualities.
Exercise and your hormones
Exercise and your hormones such as estrogen determine whether the body will burn fat or carbohydrates as fuel. Because women have higher estrogen levels, they tend to burn fat during workouts while men tend to burn carbs. This explains why women often gain weight due to lower estrogen levels during menopause.
Dopamine is known as a pleasure chemical of the brain. This hormone is often associated with weight gain because eating quickly raises the dopamine levels and gives one a sense of pleasure. People who tend to have lower levels of dopamine often eat excessively for pleasure to fill this void. Working out will help elevate dopamine levels thus decrease or eliminate overeating and halt weight gain.
Growth factors are also produced during intense workouts. These hormones work with satellite cells to help stimulate and regulate production of muscle. How does it do this? Growth factors such as fibroblast, hepatocyte and insulin send signals to satellite cells telling them to move to the damaged muscle area create from an intense workout. These hormones will then regulate muscle growth and create muscle mass respectively.
Serotonin is another one of our happy hormones that is produced during exercise. It is also responsible for restful sleep and a healthy appetite. Serotonin works in conjunction with endorphins during workouts and will stay elevated if one works out regularly. This hormone also helps to increase energy throughout the day and promotes clearer thinking.
So the next time you have a rough day at the office, feel road rage during rush hour or melancholy due to a rough patch, grab your tennis shoes and get moving. Just 10-20 minutes of activity a day with an increased heart rate is all it takes to activate these amazing hormones and send you into ecstasy.