Your endocrine system consists of glands that release hormones that control physiological functions in your body. Exercise boosts the number of hormones circulating in your body and strengthens receptor sites on target organ cells. Your endocrine response to exercise can improve organ function, physical appearance and your state of mind. Vigorous exercise, in particular, might improve endocrine function.
Exercise, particularly heavy weightlifting, stimulates the release of luteinizing hormone from your anterior pituitary gland, and luteinzing hormone triggers testosterone production. Exercise that involves intense bursts of energy also stimulates the release of thyroxine from your thyroid gland. Exercise can help you control or reduce your weight because testosterone and thyroxine speed up your metabolism.
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Insulin is a hormone that regulates your glucose, or blood sugar, by transporting it to muscles and tissues that use glucose for energy. Excessive insulin in your blood reduces your sensitivity to insulin and can lead to diabetes. More glucose stays in the blood when insulin sensitivity goes down, and high blood glucose can cause nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, organ failure, circulation problems and can lead to coma if left untreated. Exercise might increase your insulin sensitivity by reducing blood concentrations of insulin. Blood insulin levels begin decreasing after 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, and weight training might increase your sensitivity to insulin at rest, say researchers at the University of New Mexico.
The adrenal medulla releases epinephrine during exercise and increases epinephrine levels at higher exercise intensities. Epinephrine increases the amount of blood that your heart pumps. Epinephrine also enhances your ability to use muscles during exercise by widening blood vessels, which lets your muscles get more oxygen-rich blood. Thyroxine secretions during exercise increase the amount of blood in your body by about 30 percent, and these secretions might remain elevated for around five hours.
The effects of exercise on your endocrine system might positively affect your mental state. Exercise-induced testosterone might increase confidence and libido. Conversely, low testosterone levels might inhibit your motivation, self-confidence, concentration and memory. Your pituitary gland may produce a large increase in blood endorphin levels shortly after exercise begins. Endorphins block your sensitivity to pain, and can reduce tension or anxiety by inducing a sense of euphoria.
- American Council on Exercise: The Link Between the Endocrine System and Exercise
- University of New Mexico: Training Cliets with Diabetes; Jeffrey Janot, M.S. and Len Kravitz, Ph.D.
- American Diabetes Association: Hyperglycemia
- California State University, Northridge: Male Menopause?
- UC Clermont College Biology Department: Endocrine System