How Exercise Helps Manage Our Changing Hormones
Meridith Ford was at work when the first hot flash hit.
“What in the world is happening to my body?” she remembers thinking a few years ago.
It was the onset of menopause, which brings lower levels of estrogen and other changes to women’s bodies. Post-menopausal women can have a higher risk of heart disease, weaker bones, and extra tummy fat.
For men at the same stage, testosterone drops off, so it’s harder to feel as vibrant and strong. And what’s often called a “beer belly” can come from having less human growth hormone.
Meridith, now 58, always has worked out consistently with weights and cardio training. She credits that healthy lifestyle with keeping her menopause symptoms mild. But she has experienced joint pain and occasional weight gain.
“We all go through this drop in our hormones,” she says. “I stepped up the exercise and cut back some of my sweets. I don’t run great lengths anymore, and I’m devoted to yoga. I love what it’s done for my muscle tone.”
Science Shows Exercise Can Help
Hormones contribute to all aspects of our wellbeing, and it’s important that our bodies produce the right amounts. Mood swings, loss of strength, and a lower libido – all are common among people over 50 because of hormonal changes.
Aging is one of the factors beyond our control. But exercise can lessen symptoms brought by changing hormones – while also boosting quality of life, lowering aches and pains, and bringing countless physical and mental benefits.
“Hormones are substances produced by your endocrine glands that have a tremendous effect on bodily processes,” says WebMD. “They affect growth and development, mood, sexual function, reproduction, and metabolism.”
The National Society of Sports Medicine focuses on hormones related to weight loss.
“When kept in balance, these hormones have the largest effect on metabolism,” the organization says. “When out of balance, they can prevent your client from achieving the fitness results they desire.”
Recent studies have reported an anti-aging effect of exercise on the endocrine system including positive changes in cortisol (also known as the stress hormone), growth hormone and insulin. Here are some other ways exercise can help improve hormone health:
- Physical activity can affect hormonal health regarding insulin, which lets cells take up protein for energy and muscle. Too much can cause a range of health problems. Aerobic exercise, strength training, and endurance exercise can help.
- Exercise, including weightlifting, boosts testosterone, growth hormone and others to add strength and sex drive while slowing some natural effects of aging.
- Raising your heart rate for 30 minutes every day boosts estrogen to relieve menopause symptoms.
- Exercise increases dopamine to reduce stress and depression. It’s what causes “runners’ high.”
Other Ideas for Hormone Health
Everyone is different, and your hormone health is complex for men and women alike. Discuss any health questions with your doctor. Also keep in mind:
- Eat plenty of protein to maintain healthy muscles, bones and skin. Protein also affects hormones that control hunger.
- Avoid sugar, which can play havoc with insulin and insulin resistance.
- Manage stress. Cortisol and adrenaline play helpful roles, but too much can contribute to overeating, high blood pressure, and anxiety.
- Get plenty of fibre, which helps produce hormones that make you feel full.
For healthy living after 50, you’re in the driver’s seat to manage exercise, medical care, diet, stress and more. We are here to help!
Additional sources: Piedmont Healthcare, Healthline, MDPI, The Telegraph
Move over mashed potatoes….your services are no longer needed here.
There is literally NO REASON to ever make mashed potatoes again now that CAULIFLOWER SMASH is in town!
The smashed garlic adds such phenomenal flavour that it’s hard to stop eating it. This creamy, delightful dish is perfect for your holiday repertoire this year! Yum!
Courtesy of RealHealthyRecipes.com
What you need
- 1 head cauliflower florets
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil OR butter
- 6 garlic cloves, smashed
- 3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese (or 2 Tbsp of nutritional yeast)
- sea salt and black pepper
- 1 Tbsp fresh chives, minced *optional garnish
- Place the cauliflower florets in a pot of water and bring to a boil for 10 minutes, until tender. Drain the pot and transfer the cauliflower to a food processor.
- Return the pot to medium heat. Add the oil (or butter) and the smashed garlic cloves. Sauté until fragrant, for about a minute.
- Transfer the garlic to the food processor along with the remaining ingredients. Blend until a smooth consistency is reached. Garnish with minced chives. Enjoy!
One serving equals: 194 calories, 13g fat, 240mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate, 2g fibre, 4g sugar and 13g protein.
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