Home Features How hormonal changes take place due to exercise? Understand the effect of exercise on 8 crucial hormones

How hormonal changes take place due to exercise? Understand the effect of exercise on 8 crucial hormones

by Shatakshi Gupta

Hormones are bio-chemical messengers that make up our body’s signalling system. Numerous physiological functions in the body are regulated by hormones, including energy consumption, reproduction, tissue growth, hydration levels, synthesis and breakdown of muscle protein, and mood.

It’s crucial to maintain balance because they have an impact on how we feel and behave. Regular exercise is a simple and natural approach to keep your hormones in check. Eight hormones that are impacted by our exercise regimen are listed below, along with tips on how to manage them:

Types of Hormones:

Steroid, peptide, and amine are the three main subcategories of hormones. The chemical makeup of each class of hormones influences how each one reacts with various receptors. The sympathetic nervous system is affected by amines, which contain nitrogen, while steroid hormones interact with receptors in the nucleus of a cell. Peptide hormones are made of amino acids and act on particular receptor sites on the cell membrane.

Hormones can either be catabolic, which means they contribute to the breakdown of tissue, or anabolic, which means they aid in the development of new tissue. However, anabolic steroids are actually natural chemicals produced by the body that are accountable for promoting muscle growth. The term “anabolic steroids” is frequently heard as a banned substances used by athletes to improve performance.

List of hormones and their relationship with exercise:

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Insulin, a peptide hormone secreted by the pancreas, controls how carbohydrates and fats are metabolised. Insulin is released to encourage the storage and uptake of glucose and glycogen when blood sugar levels are raised. By encouraging glucose’s absorption into skeletal muscles or adipose tissues from the bloodstream, insulin aids in lowering blood glucose levels. It’s critical to understand that insulin can prevent fat from being used to fuel muscle activity and instead cause it to be deposited in adipose tissue.

It is crucial to avoid foods high in sugar (including sports drinks) before exercise because they can raise insulin levels and encourage glycogen storage rather than allowing it to be used to fuel physical activity. When exercise begins, the sympathetic nervous system suppresses the release of insulin. Never use sports drinks or energy gels before the body has begun to sweat.


Released in response to low blood sugar, glucagon is produced by the pancreas to stimulate the release of free fatty acids (FFAs) from adipose tissue and elevate blood sugar, both of which are important in the promote physical activity. When glycogen stores are depleted during exercise, glucagon releases the additional glycogen stored in the liver.


Cortisol is a catabolic steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress, low blood sugar, and exercise. It supports energy metabolism during long periods of exercise by facilitating the breakdown of triglycerides and proteins to produce the glucose needed for exercise. Cortisol is released when the body has suffered too much physical stress or has not recovered enough from a previous workout. While cortisol helps promote fat metabolism, exercising for too long can increase cortisol levels to catabolize muscle protein for fuel instead of storing it to repair damaged tissues.

Epinephrine and norepinephrine

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These amino hormones play an important role in helping the sympathetic nervous system “SNS” produce energy and regulate body functions during cardiovascular exercise. Classified as catecholamines, epinephrine and norepinephrine are separate but related hormones. Epinephrine, commonly known as adrenaline because it is produced by the adrenal glands, increases cardiac output, raises blood sugar (which helps fuel exercise), promotes the breakdown of glycogen for energy and help with fat metabolism. Norepinephrine performs many of the same functions as epinephrine, while constricting blood vessels in non-motorized parts of the body.


Testosterone is a steroid hormone produced by the Leydig cells of the testes in men and the ovaries in women, with small amounts produced by the adrenal glands in both sexes. Testosterone is responsible for muscle protein resynthesis and exercise-damaged muscle protein repair, and plays an important role in skeletal muscle growth. Testosterone works with specific receptors and is produced in response to exercise that damages muscle proteins.

Human Growth Hormone

Human growth hormone (HGH) is an anabolic peptide hormone secreted by the anterior pituitary to stimulate cell growth. Like all hormones, HGH works with specific receptor sites and can induce a number of reactions, including increasing muscle protein synthesis responsible for muscle growth, improving mineralization bones, support immune system function, and promote lipolysis or fat metabolism. The body produces HGH during the REM cycle and is stimulated by intense exercise such as high-intensity interval training, explosive strength training, or cardiovascular exercise at or above the threshold for starting the cycle.

Insulin-like growth factor

Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) has a molecular structure similar to insulin and is stimulated by the same mechanisms that produce HGH. IGF is a peptide hormone produced in the liver and supports the function of HGH to repair proteins damaged during exercise, making it an important hormone for promoting muscle growth.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a neurotransmitter that helps stimulate the production of new cells in the brain. BDNF production is closely related to HGH and IGF production – the same exercises that increase levels of these hormones also increase BDNF levels. Intense exercise can stimulate anabolic hormones for muscle growth while also increasing BDNF levels, which can help improve cognitive function.