Not often enough we openly discuss women’s health, hormones and the correlation of physical exercise for well being. This is a topic that people have very little knowledge about. Hormones have a very powerful influence on how our brains, feelings and behaviours develop throughout life. Did you know that hormone levels remain steady in men after adolescence, but for women they fluctuate on a daily basis? Exercise is extremely important for women especially because it helps stabilize the negative consequences of hormonal changes and it enhances the positive.
I recently learned that women on average has four to five hundred menstrual cycles in her lifetime (!!).. Holy crap that adds up to more than nine years. A very long time if you as a woman suffer from PMS (Premenstrual syndrome). About 75% of women do experience some type of premenstrual distress. They can be both physical and emotional, for example: trouble sleeping at night, night sweats, constipation, aggression, swelling of belly and ankles, rashes… and the list goes on. Not a very charming list if in my opinion.
Researches don’t know to this day what exactly causes PMS, but we do know that sex hormones are powerful and travel throughout the bloodstream and they influence the brain in many ways. We know that the hypothalamus sends signals to the pituitary gland to secrete hormones that travel to the ovaries and trigger the mass production of estrogen and progesterone. Two hormones that play a key role in regulating neurotransmitters. Estrogen and progesterone create more receptors for dopamine and serotonin and increase its effectiveness. That itself has an impact on mood and overall brain function.
So what can we do to help balance and restore our hormone balance and brain chemistry? Exercise. Yes. Exercise. Of course there might be other solutions too if you suffer from any of the symptoms mentioned above but physical training can help you balance your brain chemistry and reduce the symptoms dramatically. And what might be even more important to mention; avoid hormonal treatment and medication.
What happens when you exercise you might ask yourself after reading this. I will give you a short summary. Physical activity increases levels of tryptophan in the bloodstream and concentration of serotonin in the brain. It also levels out dopamine, norepinephrine and mediators such as BDNF (brain derived neurotropic factor). Exercise stabilize that broad number of variable and helps tone down fluctuations of shifting hormones. Exercise also restores the balance between opposing forces of activity in the brain and fine-tunes the HPA axis. What that means is that exercise can put a break on mood changes, aggression and anxiety and improve a woman’s ability to cope with stress.
I would argue with all the research known to this day, that exercise can and should replace drugs prescribed to women today for PMS, menopause or postpartum depression (of course there are cases where drugs are very much a necessity). The most common reason women seek treatment is too alleviate the physical symptoms of PMS or menopause. But it is forgotten that exercise can work wonders and has the same hormonal effect as drugs. What also gets lost in many conversations is that exercise also guards against heart disease, diabetes and cognitive decline.
Girls, women, ladies – let’s get up and move together. You will feel better and be happier. And if you as a man read this and know of anyone (woman) that needs a coach to get started, well you know where to find us 😉
Next week I will address and write about exercise during pregnancy.
Memorial Day MURPH! We have an amazing speaker lined up this year again. Speech will be live on Zoom starting at 9am followed by the workout. Talk to your coach about scaling options and location.
“Everybody Love Everybody”
5 Rounds on the 4:00
400m Run or 200 High Knees
20 Weighted Pull Throughs