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Ladies, are you depleting some of your hormones by your exercise routine? You could be if you’re stressing out your body with intense exercise at less-than-ideal times of the month. When done correctly, exercise can be very good for your hormones. Exercise can help with circulation, reduce stress, and overall help with the balancing of hormones. But wait… What do exercise, hormones, and stress have to do with each other? Well, what depletes women’s hormones? Stress! Exercise can act as a physical stress on the body. Instead of being a good thing, exercise can be a form of stress that makes you sick. At Wellness Way clinics, we’ve worked with thousands of women who have disrupted their hormones by over-exercising. Here’s the solution.

Is Your Exercise Routine Depleting Some of Your Hormones?

First of all, how do you even know if your hormones are out of whack? Your cycle should be between 26 and 32 days; the average is 28 days. If your cycle is too long or too short, you may have hormone problems. If your menstruation is shorter than five days, you may have hormone problems. Some women work out so much that they cease to have a period. This might be convenient, but it’s a bad sign for your body.

Other Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance Include:

  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Sleep issues (difficulties falling and staying asleep)
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in libido
  • Infertility
  • Bloating and/or stomach pains
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Sensitive skin
  • Excessive sweating

There’s a big difference between the hormone fluctuations of a cyclic woman and a man’s hormones. A woman’s hormones change dramatically throughout the month, affecting her emotions and body. These hormonal shifts call for adjustments in your workout routine. We’re not saying you should be sedentary! We’re saying to be mindful of your hormones and how your exercise routine affects them.

Before we go further, let’s break down the three types of exercise, so we’re all on the same page. Of course, if you’re not exercising at all, you’re not doing your hormones any favors, either.

Understanding Three Types of Exercise:

  • Aerobic exercise – This type of exercise raises your heart rate, promoting blood flow and oxygen delivery throughout your body. It’s vital for the health of your organs and tissues.
  • Anaerobic exercise – These are more intense exercises that help to build muscle. Examples include weightlifting or high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
  • Flexibility exercise – Stretching exercises improve blood flow without significantly increasing your heart rate. This is an essential daily exercise that also supports your neurological system.

It’s important to get regular exercise, but not always the same type. While it’s natural to be creatures of habit, the body benefits from variety. At some times of the month, the female body can handle more stress, but at other times, it’s more sensitive. During certain times of the month, exercise can be inflammatory, draining progesterone and other hormones crucial for hormonal balance.

Exercising Through the Month for Healthy Hormones

Women's Hormones and Exercise

The days are approximate and should be based on your cycle.

Exercising for Healthy Hormones During the Follicular Phase

Days 1-7 (First part of the follicular phase): This is the 5-7 days of menstruation. During this time, it’s essential to take it easy with exercise while ensuring you keep moving for circulation. Your uterus needs oxygen and time to contract to release the endometrial lining. It can cause hormonal depletions if you do intense workouts during this phase of your cycle. You still want to keep moving to bring oxygen to the smooth muscle and circulate blood flow.

The vibe plate is an excellent tool for circulation, benefiting all organs, including the brain. Pilates, yoga, and other adaptive exercises support blood flow throughout the body, while the infrared sauna boosts circulation and relaxation. Avoid intense workouts during this phase, as they can interfere with the complete release of the endometrial lining and may contribute to conditions like endometriosis or PCOS. You might feel good doing intense exercise due to the endorphin release, but it’s not great for your body.

Days 7- 14 (Second part of the follicular phase): This is the time for ramping up your workout intensity. As your hormones rise, so does your insulin sensitivity, making it easier for your body to handle sugar. Cortisol helps bring sugar into your system, and your body can utilize it more efficiently. The body can also handle more stress during this time, allowing for more intense workouts.

Take advantage of this time when your hormonal and insulin systems are primed for stress. Go ahead and lift heavy weights because this is when you’ll be rewarded for your efforts, with increased capacity for hard work. This is the time to achieve greater weight loss results and build muscle.

Exercising for Healthy Hormones During the Luteal Phase

Days 14- 21 (First part of the luteal phase): During this time, your progesterone levels rise. This is the phase where you can cause the most damage if you exercise too much. If you’re always striving for six-pack abs through intense workouts, you can deplete some of your hormones. Women aren’t meant to have six-pack abs but should maintain a healthy layer of fat. So, don’t feel pressured to push yourself to the limit constantly.

Instead, focus on flexibility exercises, yoga, vibe plates, and light walking to keep your heart rate stable. Overexerting yourself during this phase can have long-term effects, such as PMS, cancer, and other hormone problems. Avoid stressors like inflammatory foods, emotional stress, and high-intensity workouts. Take time to find ways to reduce stress.

Days 21-28 (Second part of the luteal phase): As your hormones decrease, it’s an ideal time for intense workouts like sprints, CrossFit, HIIT, and other high-intensity exercises. Working hard during this phase helps regulate hormonal levels and can induce menstruation if it’s a little behind. However, if your luteal phase is too short, keep resting until your hormones are balanced.

Understanding How Exercise Can Help or Deplete Your Hormones

Understanding how your exercise routine affects your hormones is crucial for maintaining hormonal balance. While many of us exercise to improve our appearance, the primary goal should be to enhance our health and well-being. The great thing about exercising for health is that when you feel better, you often begin looking better. So, take care of your hormones by recognizing the significant role exercise plays in your hormonal health. If you’d like expert guidance, contact one of our Wellness Way clinics.

Originally posted 3/8/20. Updated 4/25/24.

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Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. It’s not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your Wellness Way clinic or personal physician, especially if currently taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. Pregnant women, in particular, should seek the advice of a physician before trying any herb or supplement listed on this website. Always speak with your individual clinic before adding any medication, herb, or nutritional supplement to your health protocol. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

2 Comments

  • This is fascinating! I’m learning so much about female hormones and the 4 stages of the cycle, but I’m very curious about how pregnancy, postpartum, and breastfeeding fit into the picture. I am currently breastfeeding my nine month old, so my cycle hasn’t returned but I’m not dealing with the initial postpartum recovery either. I love doing intense workouts–especially lifting heavy weights and going for long runs. Is this good or bad for my hormones in this season, and how do I watch for signs of overtraining when I don’t have my cycle back yet?

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