Having balanced hormones is a good way to keep everything running smoothly; as well as all that female body stuff your body is loaded with hormones that act as messengers between your body’s cells and systems. Things always go wrong if messages can’t reach their destination or get garbled on the way (and we don’t just mean when your email accidentally hits a spam filter), so paying attention to these hormone postmen is worth your time.
Of course there are plenty of annoying conditions out there like PCOS or endometriosis that can diddle with your hormone levels and cause side effects from fatigue to acne and more, but even if you’re stuck with something like this you can still tailor your workout plans to get a bit of re-balancing benefit for those pesky pituitary problems! Give these four exercise types a try, courtesy of some tips from the workout experts at Adidas…
HIIT is great for an intense but brief workout – maximum sweat, minimum minutes! It focuses on boosting heart rate which makes it great for boosting growth hormones (the guys that build muscle and burn fat) and improving insulin sensitivity. Most routines are short but pretty punishing; for example, 30 seconds of sprints followed by 45 seconds of rest for 15-20 minutes a couple of times a week. Oof!
Get that body pumping! Good strength training is a full-body workout, great for both building muscle (duh) and burning fat as you do. It also promotes hormonal changes, improving the release of testosterone and balancing cortisol levels; since cortisol is an “alarm system” hormone that handles reactions like stress, motivation and mood, this is definitely one you want to keep in a good place as both too much and too little can cause problems. Handily, strength training 2-3 times a week helps everything stay on an even keel, so as well as weights you can include resistance moves like pushups, pullups, squats and lunges.
Yep, definitely an easy one! Whether by yourself, with a pal or with a dog (or whatever) walking is a great and simple way to help keep stress hormones down and endorphins (the “feel good” chemicals that relieve pain and boost happiness) on the up. You can speed walk or just amble along to smell the flowers, so this doesn’t need to be an intense workout so much as some light exercise. There are other benefits to getting outside for a bit, but even on a treadmill a 30 minute walk 3-5 times a week can see benefits.
Yoga is a classic workout for stress reduction and in general less stress = better balanced hormones. Even better, a lot of yoga routines include a focus on breathing, which helps your endocrine system (that’s the thing in your body that’s all hormone powered) function more effectively. That’s got to be a winner, right?
You can try some different flavours of yoga to mix things up a bit. Hatha Yoga, for example, has a slow, relaxed flow that focuses on balancing body and mind. Physical postures are gradual and sustained, with more flexibility and strength needed in poses alongside good breathing technique. For something more intense, try Vinyasa Yoga, which moves directly from one pose to the next while coordinating with your breathing – the idea is to feel like your breath is directly moving your body. Very zen.
Try a little record sheet or workout app (like one of these) to help you track what you’ve tried and what seems to work best for you. Don’t forget to include a rest day, and to allow flexibility in the schedule depending on what stage of your menstrual cycle you’re in – tailoring workouts to your cycle will help boost those benefits and avoid losing heart from an “off” day.
Make sure you use good equipment like proper weights or dumbbells (Glamour has a nice buyer’s guide) and decent workout clothes that are comfy but practical (not hard to find, from the cheap and cheerful like Matalan or Decathlon to the more fancy and technical like Gymshark or Under Armor). Good footwear is a must (you can do yoga barefoot but probably want trainers for everything else!) whether you grab a bargain from somewhere like Shoezone or go more high end with a brand like our pals at Adidas, don’t forget a solid sports bra (most gym clothes sellers will do these too) and, of course, a cute water bottle to make sure you stay hydrated.
How do you like to plan or schedule your workouts? Have you tried a hormone-balancing exercise routine, and did it work? Shout out in our private Facebook group or drop us a note on Insta @itsyoppie to tell us all about it! Don't forget that our personalised period box can get organic tampons, PMS supplements and more delivered easily and regularly through your letterbox, giving you more time each month to focus on those fitness (or other!) goals.
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