Do Strength Training and Cardio Really Affect Hormone Production?

How do the different types of exercise affect our body on a hormonal level? Every alteration has a purpose and a consequence: discover what they are in the next article.
Do Strength Training and Cardio Really Affect Hormone Production?

Last update: 24 May, 2019

Strength training and cardio are not the only types 0f exercise that affect our hormone production. Any physical activity activates a set of organs and glands essential to provide your body with the energy it needs to move around. Learn all about this process in the next article.

The truth is that working out and being sedentary will directly affect the functioning of your body. Extremes are always bad. Total physical inactivity will encourage important hormone imbalances, but an excess of exercise will have the same effect.

Strength training and cardio: differences in hormone production

Hormone production is different depending on the type of exercise you do. This happens because the demands and requirements of a particular group of movements are not the same as others. Therefore, the needs of your body may vary to adapt to each circumstance.

Cardiovascular and resistance training activates a bigger number of FGF (Fibroblast Growth Factor) hormones. These hormones directly affect the mitotic activity and the DNA synthesis process.

Out of this hormone group, FGF21 is related to the control of diabetes, obesity and other metabolic disorders. In fact, it’s frequently used as a drug in treatments dedicated to fighting those kinds of disorders.

Doing 45 minutes of moderate cardio twice a week will cause an important increase of FGF21 hormone in your bloodstream. As a matter of fact, your body will produce enough of this hormone to turn into an active element in the fight and prevention of the conditions we mentioned in the previous paragraph.

On the other hand, doing strength training for the same amount of time and with the same weekly frequency will result in a hormone increase that’s up to three times smaller.

Woman doing intense cardio to stimulate hormone production

Physical activity and insulin

The effects of insulin on our body have been studied by the scientific community for decades. However, the investigations surrounding its relationship with physical activities and the production of energy for our body are relatively recent.

During strength training and cardio, the production of insulin stops temporarily. The pancreas, an organ that’s responsible for producing insulin, stops working. The reason behind this phenomenon is the fact that this hormone is in charge of reducing the glycemic index, among other things. In other words: it reduces the amount of sugar in the bloodstream.

When you work out, since the muscles contract, no matter what kind of exercise you’re performing, your body activates a parallel mechanism that “exploits” glucose as a fuel source. This is something that happens with or without the intervention of insulin.

Exercise, euphoria and a good mood

People who adopt regular exercise routines, even if they’re basic exercises such as walking, develop a certain kind of dependency for them. Some even use the expression “sport addicts”.

This happens because strength training and cardio increase the production of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that help to endure the pain of high physical effort, and they’re vital to perform weight lifting work.

Resistance athletes, such as swimmers or runners, also have high levels of these hormones in their bodies. That’s how they get that euphoric feeling of achievement after they cross the finish line or complete a training session.

On the other hand, cardiovascular exercises trigger the increase of another neurotransmitter on the cerebral cortex: serotonin. This hormone contributes to diminishing the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Woman doing stregth training to stimulate hormone production

The two sides of the same coin: the negative effects of hormone production

Among the many problems that an inactive lifestyle can cause, the ones that are related to a low hormone production really stand out. The potential increase in other hormones becomes very important since they could have negative effects on your health. This is what happens with cortisol.

An excessive amount of this hormone can have very harmful effects. Cortisol can cause digestive problems, sleep disorders and drastic mood changes. Likewise, it can influence weight gain and deteriorate the skin.

However, the lack of exercise can be as damaging as over-training. The stress that comes from continuous high-intensity activities can result in adrenal glands disorders. As a consequence, the production of cortisol may become out of control.

Ultimately, an excess of cardio can also cause an imbalance in the production of testosterone. This may cause some men to suffer from hypogonadism, which is the inhibition of testicular functions. This could drastically affect their sex life, among other issues.