How to Use Exercise to Balance Hormones
Yes, you can get results in as little as 20 minutes several times a week. In fact, for a woman in perimenopause, menopause, or beyond the answer is often less exercise to balance hormones.
These are ways you benefit by finding the right exercise to hormone balances:
- Increase growth hormone
- Improve insulin response
- Increase testosterone
- Stabilize blood sugar
- Reduce adrenalin
- Increase GABA
- Optimize cortisol levels
- Increase serotonin
Here are the principles of the After 50 Fitness Formula for Women exercise to balance hormones to help you optimize hormonal and fat burning benefits (and bonus – minimize the time you spend exercising):
Go all out.
For exercise to balance hormones it must be done to the point you’re breathless or can’t do one more repetition. Intensity is a must when you want to take advantage of interval training or the benefits of strength training.
Exchanging hard and short for more and moderate exercise does not provide the right exercise to balance hormones. The moderate level of exercise for a moderate duration of time is what I refer to as No Benefits Zone. Unfortunately, a lot of women spend a majority of their exercise time there. If you’re getting tired, not more energetic, and not losing weight, in fact may be gaining it, consider dramatically shortening your exercise and lose the more is better mantra all around you.
The exception is if you’re outside hiking or biking for a couple hours and truly loving it and enjoying yourself. If you’re doing drudgery on the dreadmill at the gym in effort to burn calories and weighing before and after your workout to see progress you’re doing more harm than good.
If it’s hard make it short.
High intensity interval training should be done no more than 45 minutes total per week to optimize benefits and minimize risk. Most midlife women do best with lower risk of injury at two sessions of 20 or 25 minutes. Work up to your optimal interval volume and duration.
For more details, see above #1. You’ll enjoy better blood sugar stabilization and appetite control benefits if you keep it short and lose them if you go too long or too often.
Train all major muscles in each workout.
Work all of your major muscle groups only 2x a week with a full body routine (increase growth hormone). A 10-minute workout using all major muscles is far more hormone balancing than one muscle group a day 5-6 days a week.
Eat a blend of carbohydrate and protein about an hour or 45 minutes before a workout (example: a smoothie with berries and protein without fiber and fat). Limit fat post exercise. Eat a high protein meal 60-120 minutes after finishing your high intensity workout (intervals or weights, or a lengthy hike). Yes, the wait is important. Avoid sports drinks and bars full of either chemicals or sugars especially if you’re in the kitchen where real food is available. Food is a major part of exercise for hormone balance.
This advice flies in the face of current fasting trends. Fasting applies to young and old, men and women. There isn’t a large enough body of knowledge on women in midlife already stressed and unable to lose weight trying to exercise in a fasted state. During fasting I recommend my clients (and do myself) go lightly with exercise. Trying to do hard exercise without food is like one foot on the gas and one on the brake. You don’t go anywhere but it is hard on the engine.
Check out this graphic for specific exercise modes and their hormone balancing potential* (they’re only hormone balancing done in the right time and effort for your needs).
There is conventional/traditional exercise prescription. There is exercise to balance hormones. Then even further down the road there is exercise for adrenal fatigue. Make sure you’re asking whether something has been proven on a woman like you.
These are the basics of exercise to balance hormones. That said, not every woman who needs hormone balance needs the same exercise program. Depending on your signs (fatigue, weight gain, belly fat, brain fog, cravings, hot flashes, night sweats, etc.) your best program will start and progress uniquely.
A Flipping 50 Specialist can work up a plan based on your current exercise plan, your signs & symptoms, labs you may have had (not necessary), and your personal preferences and physical needs. If you’d like to book a session to go over your plan for either 6 month, 90-day coaching support, or a single 90-minute session contact me with your details. Plans begin at $300 for a single comprehensive session.