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Sports and fitness and sex hormones

Which Hormones are Essential to Fitness?

To be fit and healthy, the right hormone balance is essential. Hormones control numerous aspects of our well-being, affecting our energy levels, mood, sleeping patterns and cell repair, metabolism, bone and muscle strength. Read on for a quick summary on the connection between fitness and hormones…

  –  Yes we sell hormone test kits, but we also like to provide unbiased, credible and sourced articles for a good read on your way home. You may also like What is Adrenal Fatigue, Debunking the Myth

DHEAs are Crucial to Fitness – Why?

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is an androgen hormone made in the adrenal gland and is the starting material or ‘building blocks’ of the sex hormones. Therefore, optimal DHEA levels are required to sustain normal levels of testosterone and estrogen. Sub-optimal levels of DHEAs may therefore result in symptoms of related hormone deficiency….

DHEA is widely used as a muscle building supplement (ingredient) and despite there being no conclusive evidence of its efficacy, we at least understand it’s role as a precursor to testosterone and estrogen. We also know that without natural DHEA, we are in a world of bother, because the next two hormones we discuss here rely upon it to do their job.

Testosterone is Crucial to Fitness – Why?

Testosterone is responsible for building body mass in the form of lean muscle, and for burning excess fat. It is also involved in keeping a healthy number of red blood cells in your bloodstream – these are responsible for carrying iron and oxygen around your body.

The reduction in bone and muscle strength due to the age-related decline in testosterone can be offset, or at least improved by exercise, but the benefits vary depending on factors like age, BMI and your current fitness level.

hormones are important for training

Motivation is a key factor in the gym as we know.

Intense exercise such as squats and dead-lifts can boost testosterone levels in the short-term. “Sometimes  it’s 15 minutes after exercise that testosterone is elevated. Sometimes it can be up to an hour,” says Todd Schroeder, PhD, who studies exercise and hormones in older men at the University of Southern California.

Estrogen is Crucial to Fitness – Why?

Estrogen is an important hormone in both sexes and is needed to boost bone mineral density and avoid osteoporosis.  Our bones provide stability and our muscles grip those bones in place, firming everything up.

But there’s far more to the estrogen story.

Voluntary activity itself is stimulated by the presence of estrogen  (my fellow women might relate to this).

The flipside being that low levels can be attributed to reduced motivation, so yes it’s important to fitness. “Estrogen balance is essential for achieving and maintaining fat loss,” says Natasha Turner, ND, author of The Supercharged Hormone Diet. “An imbalance will definitely impact your ability to build and retain lean and metabolically active muscle tissue, as well as your ability to burn fat,”.

So we know our sex hormones DHEA, testosterone and estrogens are essential to fitness. But there’s a fourth player involved here and her impact isn’t so welcome, read on..

Over-exercising can disrupt hormones – How?

Testosterone and exercise

Training alone in the dark may be excessive.

Over-exercising (sometimes attributed to endurance training) can actually reduce testosterone levels, and lead to physical stress. This can trigger production of the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol, which is made in the adrenal gland. This has a negative effect on energy levels, and the metabolism of fats and sugars.

Heightened stress can also make falling asleep difficult, and lead to disrupted sleep/wake patterns. This results in daytime tiredness, reduces the ability for muscles to repair, and over time will lead to sub-optimal training. So training hard and smart is advised.

So, what can we do?

An important question especially for the middle to older age groups. Fortunately for us, extensive research over decades has resulted in some fairly simple advice, if not a little dull. Looking after our mental health, and keeping fit is the best and only thing we can do to help our hormones.

Eating the right food (most of the time), sleeping normal hours and minimizing exposure to stress is normally all that’s required. As long as you adhere to your exercise plan, and follow these simple rules as close as you can, you’re doing right by your hormones. Provided we are otherwise healthy, optimal hormone balance results in better muscle development, increased bone strength, improved fat suppression  and more stamina.

Check and Track your Levels:

If you’re curious or maybe even concerned about your sex hormone levels you can always test them. Due to its unique advantages, saliva is perfectly suited for the purpose. Testing is non invasive and can be performed at home and pre paid express package to send your sample to the laboratory here in Australia. Results are issued by secure .PDF and can be shared with your doctor.

This short post was brought to you by the TestoChecker Journal

Single or multi-pack saliva test kits offered by TestoChecker can help understand current levels of hormones that are connected with fitness and general health. 

Disclaimer: This post is strictly focused on the relationship between the sex hormones and fitness / exercise.  Many more actions can be attributed to these hormones, outside the focus of this short article.

Sources:

Cano Sokoloff N, Misra M and Ackerman KE (2016) Exercise, Training, and the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Gonadal Axis in Men and Women. Front Horm Res. 47:27-43.

Sato K and Iemitsu M  (2018) Chapter Seven – The Role of Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in Skeletal Muscle. In: Litwack G (ed.), Vitamins and Hormones, vol 108. Academic Press.

Mohamad N-V, Soelaiman I-N and Chin K-Y (2016) A concise review of testosterone and bone health. Clinical interventions in aging. 11:1317-1324.

Brownlee KK, Moore AW and Hackney AC (2005) Relationship between circulating cortisol and testosterone: influence of physical exercise. Journal of sports science & medicine. 4(1):76-83.

Hooper DR, Kraemer WJ, Saenz C, et al. (2017) The presence of symptoms of testosterone deficiency in the exercise-hypogonadal male condition and the role of nutrition. Eur J Appl Physiol. 117(7):1349-1357.

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