Exercise and Our Hormones!

As we age, our sex organs (both women and men) produce less estrogen and testosterone. In fact, the New York Times has reported that there is an abundance of books on the very subject of perimenopause and menopause for those of us women 40 and over. This is the time when our hormones are fluctuating and our ovaries are starting to produce less estrogen which may result in some unpleasant symptoms. Men over 40 may also experience symptoms from reduced hormone levels such as fatigue. However, our adrenal gland continues to produce small amounts of these vital hormones throughout life. So how can exercise help?

One study reported that blood levels of estrogen, testosterone and growth hormone were significantly higher in women aged 19-69 years old after 40 minutes of either endurance or resistance exercise versus a control group who performed no exercise! We can see that even the older women produced more anti-aging hormones! The study concluded that "an acute bout of exercise can increase concentrations of anabolic hormones in females across a wide age range".(1) What does this mean? It means anti-aging for our muscles, bones and of course, among other wonderful side effects, good news for our skin and mental well-being! 


Other research on the hormonal response to exercise in men, while less conclusive for testosterone levels, showed increases in growth hormone after resistance exercise. What does this mean? Growth Hormone touted as "the" anti-aging therapy treatment some celebrities credit their youthful looks to, increases muscle mass, bone density and reduces body fat. Sounds youthful to me!

Now to the point of today's tip: Exercise increases circulating hormones which may help reduce some of those unpleasant effects of aging. Perhaps exercise may aid women who are unable to take hormone replacement therapy, and perhaps it may help reduce the amount of synthetic hormones for those women who do take them. We do know that increases in levels of estrogen and testosterone aid calcium absorption which is vital for our bones. So, now we have another great reason to exercise in addition to all the others. 

Not 40 yet yet? As we all know, it's never too early to anti-age! Here's to "Nature's Fountain of Youth" that is within all of us!


Hormonal responses to endurance and resistance exercise in females aged 19-69 years.
Copeland JL, Consitt LA, Tremblay MS.
Department of Biology, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada. jec324@duke.usask.ca

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