Hormones & Exercises

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✴✴✴ Topic Today : Exercise and Hormones!

🙅‍♀️Every day we are engaged in lot of daily activities, and also exercise dedicatedly at gym for specific time period. Regardless of the form of training we choose, we carry this habit to improve our health. But we actually know surprisingly little about exactly how the hormones are affected with exercises and how training affect our health. Exercising has benefits for mood and energy, as well as our physical health but surprisingly exercise have major or an even more subtle effect on our bodies.

When we talk about on the chemical level, there are a number of ways working out can affect your hormones, and this can influence all parts of how our body functions. Let’s understand what all hormones effect our body positively when we work out on daily basis.

The endocrine system regulates the production of hormones, which are chemicals that control cellular functions. Hormones can affect a number of different cells; however, they only influence the ones with specific receptor sites. Hormones control a number of physiological reactions in the body including energy metabolism, reproductive processes, tissue growth, hydration levels, synthesis and degradation of muscle protein, and mood. Hormones are responsible for both building new muscle and helping to burn fat, so it is important to have an understanding of which ones are released in relation to exercise as well as understanding the physiological functions they influence.

There are three major classifications of hormones: steroid, peptide and amines (modified amino acid hormones). Each class of hormones has a unique chemical structure that determines how it interacts with specific receptors. Steroid hormones interact with receptors in the nucleus of a cell, peptide hormones are comprised of amino acids and work with specific receptors sites on the cell membrane, and amines contain nitrogen and influence the sympathetic nervous system.


A peptide hormone produced by the pancreas, insulin regulates carbohydrate and fat metabolism. When blood sugar is elevated, insulin is released to promote the storage and absorption of glycogen and glucose. Insulin helps reduce levels of glucose in the blood by promoting its absorption from the bloodstream to skeletal muscles or fat tissues. It is important to know that insulin can cause fat to be stored in adipose tissue instead of being used to fuel muscle activity. When exercise starts, the sympathetic nervous system suppresses the release of insulin; consequently, it is important to avoid foods with high levels of sugar (including sports drinks) before exercise because it can elevate insulin levels and promote glycogen storage instead of allowing it to be used to fuel physical activity.


Released in response to low levels of blood sugar, glucagon is produced by the pancreas to stimulate the release of free fatty acids (FFAs) from adipose tissue and increase blood glucose levels, both of which are important for fueling exercise activity. As glycogen levels are depleted during exercise, glucagon releases additional glycogen stored in the liver.


Cortisol is a catabolic steroid hormone produced by the adrenal gland in response to stress, low blood sugar and exercise. It supports energy metabolism during long periods of exercise by facilitating the breakdown of triglyceride and protein to create the glucose necessary to help fuel exercise. Cortisol is released when the body experiences too much physical stress or is not sufficiently recovered from a previous workout. While cortisol helps promote fat metabolism, exercising for too long can elevate levels of cortisol to catabolize muscle protein for fuel instead of conserving it to be used to repair damaged tissues.

Epinephrine and Norepinephrine

These amine hormones play an important role in helping the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) produce energy and in regulating the body’s function during cardiorespiratory exercise. Classified as catecholamines, epinephrine and norepinephrine are separate but related hormones. Epinephrine, often referred to as adrenaline because it is produced by the adrenal gland, elevates cardiac output, increases blood sugar (to help fuel exercise), promotes the breakdown of glycogen for energy and supports fat metabolism. Norepinephrine performs a number of the same functions as epinephrine, while also constricting blood vessels in parts of the body not involved in exercise.


Testosterone is a steroid hormone produced by the Leydig cells of the testes in males and the ovaries of females, with small amounts produced by the adrenal glands of both genders. Testosterone is responsible for muscle protein resynthesis and the repair of muscle proteins damaged by exercise, and plays a significant role in helping grow skeletal muscle. Testosterone works with specific receptor sights and is produced in response to exercise that damages muscle proteins.


A wonderful hormone in the right amount, it makes conception and pregnancy possible. It’s also a natural mood lifter. However, estrogen works in sync with progesterone, and both hormones need to be in balance. Progesterone helps balance estrogen, and in the right ratio, the two hormones help burn body fat, act as an antidepressant, assist metabolism and promote sleep. But if you don’t have enough progesterone, such as in conditions like endometriosis, you can become Estrogen Dominant, which causes all manner of problems, from a sluggish metabolism and bloating to mood swings.

Human Growth Hormone

Human growth hormone (HGH) is an anabolic peptide hormone secreted by the anterior pituitary gland that stimulates cellular growth. Like all hormones, HGH works with specific receptor sites and can produce a number of responses, including increasing muscle protein synthesis responsible for muscle growth, increasing bone mineralization, supporting immune system function and promoting lipolysis, or fat metabolism. The body produces HGH during the REM cycles of sleep and is stimulated by high-intensity exercise such as heavy strength training, explosive power training or cardiorespiratory exercise at or above the onset of blood lactate (OBLA, the second ventilatory threshold).

Insulin-like Growth Factor

Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) has a similar molecular structure to insulin and is stimulated by the same mechanisms that produce HGH. IGF is a peptide hormone produced in the liver and supports the function of HGH to repair protein damaged during exercise, which makes it an important hormone for promoting muscle growth.

Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a neurotransmitter that helps stimulate the production of new cells in the brain. The production of BDNF is closely related to the production of HGH and IGF—the same exercises that elevate levels of those hormones also increase amounts of BDNF. High-intensity exercise can stimulate anabolic hormones for muscle growth while elevating levels of BDNF, which can help improve cognitive function.

Understanding how exercise influences the hormones that control physiological functions can assist you in developing effective exercise programs for your clients. Hormones have both short- and long-term responses to exercise. In the acute phase immediately post-exercise, testosterone (T), HGH and IGF are produced to repair damaged tissue. Over the long-term, there is an increase in the receptor sites and binding proteins, which allow T, HGH and IGF to be used more effectively for tissue repair and muscle growth. For clients who want muscle growth, the levels of T, HGH and IGF are produced in response to the amount of mechanical stress created during resistance-training exercises. Moderate to heavy loads performed until momentary fatigue generate high levels of mechanical force, which creates more damage to muscle protein, which signals the production of T, HGH and IGF to repair protein, which results in muscle growth.

✔Increases Irisin which is called the exercise hormone. This facilitates glucose uptake by skeletal muscles, improves hepatic glucose and lipid metabolism, gives positive effect on hyperlipidemia and hyperglycemia which are caused by obesity and other metabolic disorders

✔Stimulates Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and boosts production of the human growth hormone.

✔Improves Insulin Sensitivity – Working out can prevent insulin resistance, so less chances of being diagnosed with diabetes.

✔Increased Endorphins(also called the natural painkiller) levels. Endorphine reduces the feeling of pain and also helps to relax, reduces anxiety, also creates feel good factor

✔Regulates Estrogen and manages the female reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics (i.e. breast development, reproduction, menstrual cycle, etc.)

✔Regulates Cortisol – Regular exercise can be very helpful in regulating or decreasing the cortisol level

✔Stimulates Production Of Testosterone – This is an important hormone responsible for muscle growth and maintenance, increasing metabolism, and boosting overall confidence.

🎯Majorly when we do resistance training or HIIT or any kind of rigourous workouts, it reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.

Hope you find this topic interesting and useful.

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❤Cheers & Love❤
Your FITTR Coach, Niti


Niti Chowdhury

Certified Fitness and Nutrition Consultant


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