Is your exercise routine impacting your hormonal health?

Posted by Riannon Page on

Something we see so often in clinic is women pushing themselves to their absolute limits. Even if their mind and bodies are desperately calling out for rest, these women manage to fit in a number of high intensity workout sessions each week.

While running, CrossFit and HIIT training can make us feel amazing in small doses, the intensity of this training can wreak havoc on our hormones if we are doing it more often than our bodies can handle.

So, how does high intensity exercise impact my hormones?

Women who prioritise high intensity training consistently throughout the week are at a higher risk of hormonal imbalances. This is because high intensity exercise increases the release of our stress hormones, cortisol, and adrenalin. This automatically places the body in a sympathetic nervous system state (also known as fight or flight).

In small amounts, this is usually okay as the body is capable of regaining balance. However, when we pair this sort of training routine with our already crazy work schedule, social life, relationships, family responsibilities and everything else life throws at us, you can see how it becomes a sure way to fuel an already heightened nervous system response.  

Over time this can result in hormonal imbalances that may present as irregular cycles, menstrual pain, PMS mood changes, low libido, anxiety, stress, fatigue, and issues with fertility. It can also have a negative effect on our thyroid and immune health.

How to exercise for better hormonal health

Fortunately, it’s not all bad, there are many forms of exercise that are extremely beneficial and nourishing to our adrenal and hormonal health. When it comes to exercise, the key is like anything in life – balance.  Alternating between cardio, weights and restorative practices like yoga and pilates can help protect the adrenal glands and our hormonal health.

For best results, we recommend incorporating a maximum of 2 sessions of cardio and weights, this can include things like running, boxing, bike riding etc. Paired with 2 sessions of more restorative practices each week, including yoga, Pilates, nature walks etc. Also, don’t forget to listen to your body and take time to rest. Gentle movements like stretching can be enough on your rest days.

Finding balance within your exercise routine will ensure you reap the wonderful benefits that exercise can provide while also maintaining the delicate balance of your internal health and hormones.

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