Are You Over-Exercising? Your Hormones May Need You To Take It Easy
By Kat Gal
Hormonal imbalances are an increasing problem in the Western world. Impaired thyroid function, PMS, PCOS, infertility, irregular menstrual cycles, fatigue, emotional issues and even diabetes can be linked or even be a direct result of hormonal imbalance.
How To Tell If You Have Hormonal Imbalance
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance are wide-ranged and include:
- Unexplained weight gain
- Irregular periods
- Hair loss
- Poor sleeping patterns
- PMS and painful periods
- Lowered libido
- Hot flashes
- Anxiety, depression and other mood imbalances
- Digestion problems
It is important to consult your doctor to determine your hormonal health and to work with a holistic health doctor, naturopath, or other qualified healthcare professional to determine the best course of action to help your hormones. In the meantime though, see what you can do to start helping yourself now!
The Adrenal Glands And Female Hormones
Hormonal imbalances affect both males and females; both males and females have male and female hormones. But, because issues with female hormones are more complex and more frequent, in this article we will dig deeper into the functions and issues around them in particular.
Remember, your body is a system and all of your hormones work together. If one is out of whack, chances are that the other hormones are too. If your female hormones are imbalanced, you are likely dealing with other hormonal imbalances as well.
Your adrenal glands sit on the top of your kidneys. Though they are tiny, they are the organs responsible for producing your stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol.
Adrenaline is a necessary hormone that – in case of a physical fight or threat – saves your butt and gets you to either run away or fight back. If needed, it can also give you quick energy and super-human powers in necessary cases, like if a bear is chasing you.
On the other hand, cortisol is the hormone that mobilizes stored glycogen in your body, allowing the liver to convert it to glucose, a form of quick and available fuel. Cortisol is responsible for your ability to focus, remember and be mentally alert.
These hormones are both necessary and can help you thrive when functioning properly. However, when they are over-produced, they put you into a state of constant stress (or flight-or-fight) and can end up turning against you and cause health problems.
When You Are Producing Stress Hormones On A Regular Basis:
- You experience blood sugar imbalances. Your glycogen molecules become over-mobilized, taxing your pancreas and over-producing insulin to deal with the extra sugar in your body. This is why stress causes extra fat deposits around your belly.
- You experience increased inflammation in your body. This also leads to increased fatigue, pain and tissue damage.
- Your ability to focus decreases. Both adrenaline and cortisol help mental clarity in the proper amounts, but having too much of them can actually lead to foggy brain, fatigue and lack of focus.
- You experience imbalances in your sex hormones. The overproduction of stress hormones leads to the under-production of sex hormones. This can lead to issues like lowered sex drive, bad skin, weight gain and reduced fertility.
How Exercise Is Linked To Your Hormonal Imbalance
Exercise is stress. You may forget about this as in today’s society, exercise is mainly linked to weight loss, flat abs and vanity, as well as athletic performance. The kicker is that if you are already in a constant stressed state, your workout routine can be working against your weight-loss efforts.
Exercise is stress, but it can be good stress. When your body is healthy, it quickly adapts to the stress. In the process, your cardiovascular and respiratory tissues become taxed, your muscle tissues become torn, stress hormones get produced and your lymphs start pumping.
Exercising (or participating in an activity that makes you function at a higher rate and speed than other activities) causes your body to actually become stronger – as long as it is HEALTHY. When performed consistently, your body adapts to the new activity. Through sweating, your body detoxifies. If you properly pre-fuel, re-fuel and rest, you ultimately benefit from your exercise.
Excessive exercise – whether it is cardio, weight lifting, or a combination – with a too short recovery time doesn’t give your body an opportunity to fully repair. A chance to repair is important to heal and create a new foundation for a healthier and stronger body. If your hormones are already imbalanced and compromised, it will be even more difficult for your body to recover, repair and heal.
What Can You Do?
If you are dealing with hormonal imbalance, it is very important to not over-exercise. It doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to stop everything all-together though, especially since exercise is also considered a natural stress-reducing activity. Here is what you can do:
- If you are currently involved with strenuous activities that take away hours of your day, cut back.
- Working out 20-30 minutes instead of an hour or more may benefit you.
- Choose light exercise, such as walking, light swimming, yoga, or pilates, instead of something more strenuous, such as aerobics classes, weight lifting, distance running, or kickboxing.
- Taking days of rest is also important.
- Engaging in activities such as gentle yoga and meditation can be beneficial for your healing and relaxation.
- It is important to eat a healthy diet with plenty of organic, mostly plant-based whole foods.
Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that you have to give up intensive lifting or marathon running forever; as your hormones rebalance, you can get back to these activities slowly while paying increased attention to healthy dieting, pre- and re-fueling, de-stressing and getting plenty of rest.
Do you think that you have a hormonal imbalance? What are you currently doing to help your hormones? Share your experiences, tips and questions below. As always, we would love to hear from you!
Kat Gál is a multi-passionate writer, world traveler, nomad, runner, and cat-person. She is a lifelong learner who lives outside of her comfort zones stretching her boundaries and discovering beauty around the world. She is a Certified Holistic Health and Life Coach who encourages others to embrace their unique authentic selves, follow their heart and find their own version of freedom in life.
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