It’s not even slightly shocking to me to hear that hormones play a role in physical activity and that estrogen and exercise are linked. As a woman, the link between various hormones and our lifestyles can often be more than obvious. They influence every part of the way our bodies function.
A Link between Estrogen and Exercise
When I recently saw a headline saying that scientists had found a surprising connection between estrogen and exercise, I had to click right away. After all, this was something that could directly impact my ability to reach my goals!
Studying the connection between estrogen and exercise isn’t actually anything new. It’s getting more media attention these days because of scientific advances that make studying it more effective. We’ve known since 1924 when rat studies were conducted that female mammals’ activity levels vary based on their hormone cycles. Right before ovulation – when they are most sexually receptive – they are most physically active. Researchers at that time pointed to female hormones as a primary reason for this behavior.
Recent Research into Female Hormones and Physical Activity Levels
University of California Herzstein Endowed Professor of Physiology Holly Ingraham recently studied the way estrogen and exercise are connected by way of the brain’s genetic activity. She conducted her research on healthy adult female mice. Some of those mice had their uptake of the hormone chemically blocked. The research team tracked the movements of the animals to see how active they were.
This quickly revealed a trend showing that the mice with the blocked estrogen were far less active than the other females, suggesting a link between the two. The research indicated that workout strategies for women could be customized to take those changing hormones into account. Still, it’s important to note that this research was conducted on mice and hasn’t been replicated in humans. I’m not about to run up to a physical trainer with a copy of my period cycle, demanding a list of routines that I can do based on my hormonal patterns!
Why is the Estrogen and Exercise Connection Interesting?
The research in this area may still be early, but it’s interesting in useful. It could help those of use who are going through women’s hormone cycles to develop workout strategies that better suit our natural inclination and capacity to be physically active. Looking forward, it can also help post-menopausal women or women who have low estrogen levels to boost their own activity levels through potential strategies like hormone replacement therapies.
I don’t pretend that I understand all the potential here, but I do get that the more we understand these connections, the better prepared we can be to make informed decisions and have the right options available to us.