Activity is a means toward better health — but knowing what it does to our hormones is essential.
My workmates are all signing up for a push-up challenge to benefit a charity. The great news is that we don’t have to take the time to execute a million push-ups. Instead, we’re allowed to squat, lung and do any activity. As you might have guessed, I jumped at the chance to start challenging myself — and I thought it would be a great motivator to keep going to the gym four times a week. But unfortunately, our workload is very hectic right now, and I’m struggling to wake up early enough to put in the necessary time. I have my ‘accidental sleep in days,’ which is fine. But doing this little challenge as a group increases my motivation. And, since it’s a weight-barring exercise, It leaves me with even more enthusiasm. Most of us are trying to stay healthy, increase our step count and be active. Some like to cycle to work, and others like myself enjoy lifting weights and doing a lot of mindful walking. These activities are all done in good faith to increase our health benefits, stay lean and keep our minds engaged. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have come closer to understanding the diverse effects of different forms of training. One part of the study viewed the effects of 10 healthy young men, randomly divided into two groups who did both cardio and strength training once a week. Cardio training sessions were relatively complex and lasted about 60 minutes, at 70 per cent max oxygen intake. Strength training consisted of five repeated exercises (5×10) involving the main muscle groups (multi-joint movements). Blood samples were taken to assess the young men’s results. The findings were that cardio training on an exercise bike causes three times as large an increase in hormone FGF21. You are probably wondering what FGF21 is. Well, that hormone activation brings about a more favourable metabolic impact. That’s not to say that weight training isn’t beneficial. Weight training and cardio are entirely different sides of the benefit scale, but both work together to produce marvellous health and body composition changes. Why is FGF21 so important? First, it’s a potential drug that helps ward off diabetes, obesity and similar metabolic disorders. You can increase your resistance to developing metabolic disorders by increasing your training and intensity throughout your lifetime. What about those muscle hormones that are beneficial? More research is needed in this arena, although they did find something that worried the researchers. The hormone FGF19 drops slightly after weight training due to the stress effect of lifting weights. But not a lot of research has delved into this response, and therefore, it’s not something to become worried about. Instead, perhaps this is the cortisol response that increases muscle resistance and growth. I can’t remember what research paper indicated this, but I can say it’s not a negative thing. On the contrary, our bodies need this stress to challenge and strengthen. I have never found an indication that weight training harms your hormones through my research. On the contrary, I have read many pieces indicating how positive it is to lift weights.
Key take away
We should all make the time for cardio and weight training to strengthen our bodies and eliminate our chances of developing metabolic disorders. That goes hand in hand with a better diet and toning down the stress levels in your life. Stress is also better dealt with when you have a schedule in your life to apply training and better nutrition every single day.
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