PART 1: How Female Hormones Affect Exercise: (Ages: 12-40’s)

October 03, 2022 Wally
PART 1: How Female Hormones Affect Exercise: (Ages: 12-40’s)
Show Notes

The Teenage Years (12–18)
During the teenage years, the young female body has already undergone puberty, and the menstrual cycle is becoming more predictable due to monthly fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels 

What’s happening physiologically
This is an important time to be physically active. Doing so enhances bone mineral density and helps maintain a healthy balance between body fat and lean muscle mass.

Studies show that 80–90% of female bone mass is accrued by age 16, with the development of lean muscle helping to stimulate bone density augmentation.

Exercise recommendations
Sports and athletics provide an opportunity for growth in many areas, especially when it comes to refining physical skills, increasing strength and endurance, and establishing perseverance to exercise.

While being physically active has numerous benefits, balance is key when it comes to regular exercise and recovery.

It’s important not to overly tax the TEENAGE body with too much intense exercise, as this can result in the loss of regular menstrual cycles, hormonal dysregulation, and a deterioration in bone density.

Adequate sleep, recovery days, hydration, and — most importantly — a healthy diet are imperative, with food intake supporting the amount of exercise performed (in other words, no calorie restriction!) 

Beyond that, impact and weight bearing exercises, plyometrics, and resistance training are ideal for increasing bone mineral density

Young Adult and Reproductive Years (18–40s)
The menstrual cycle begins on day one of your period, with very low levels of hormones during the first half of the month. After mid-month ovulation, estrogen and progesterone begin to rise and continue to climb throughout the second half of the cycle until the next one begins 

What’s happening physiologically
Because hormone levels are at their lowest on day one of your period, this is when your body is most resilient and ready to work hard. Following mid-month ovulation, progesterone gradually rises, increasing your body temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate  

Exercise recommendations
At this stage of life, it’s important to coordinate your workout intensity with your menstrual cycle.

Hormone levels are low at the beginning of the month, so this is the time to prioritize intense exercise like high intensity interval training (HIIT), plyometrics, powerlifting, heavy weightlifting, hill repeats, and other rigorous exercise, with at least 1 day of recovery between hard workouts.

Also, due to low estrogen levels during the first half of the menstrual cycle through ovulation, women are at a higher risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries.

Activities that require quick changes in direction or side-to-side cutting, including soccer or downhill skiing, should be pursued with caution during this phase, and it’s critical to mind proper knee placement during squats, lunges, jumps, and repetitive cardio.

After mid-cycle ovulation
Hot exercise environments should be avoided, and moderate intensity, gentle movement is most beneficial. Great options include easy cardio, yoga, Pilates, walks, bike rides, and hikes.

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