Female hormones play an important role in the regulation of the menstrual cycle and reproductive function. However, they can also have an impact on exercise performance. In this blog, we will discuss the effects of female hormones on exercise performance.
The menstrual cycle is a complex process that is regulated by the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones can have an impact on several physiological systems that are involved in exercise performance, including the cardiovascular system, the musculoskeletal system, and the respiratory system.
Estrogen is a hormone that is produced by the ovaries and plays an important role in the development and maintenance of female reproductive tissues. It has also been shown to have an impact on exercise performance. One study found that women with higher levels of estrogen had a greater capacity for aerobic exercise, as measured by their VO2 max (maximal oxygen uptake). This may be due to the fact that estrogen has a vasodilatory effect, which means that it can help to increase blood flow to the muscles during exercise.
Progesterone is another hormone that is involved in the menstrual cycle. It has been shown to have a negative impact on exercise performance. One study found that women with higher levels of progesterone had a decreased capacity for aerobic exercise, as measured by their VO2 max. This may be due to the fact that progesterone has a respiratory depressant effect, which means that it can decrease the amount of air that a person can inhale and exhale during exercise.
Testosterone & Cortisol
In addition to estrogen and progesterone, other hormones such as testosterone and cortisol can also have an impact on exercise performance. Testosterone is a hormone that is produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands, and is important for the development of muscle mass and strength. Women with higher levels of testosterone have been shown to have a greater capacity for muscular endurance and strength. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced in response to stress, and can have a negative impact on exercise performance if levels are chronically elevated.
Female hormones can have both positive and negative effects on exercise performance. Estrogen has been shown to have a positive impact on aerobic exercise capacity, while progesterone has a negative impact. Testosterone is important for the development of muscle mass and strength, while cortisol can have a negative impact on exercise performance if levels are chronically elevated.
It is important for women to be aware of the potential impact of their hormonal fluctuations on exercise performance and to adjust their training accordingly. (If you're feeling low or sluggish throughout your cycle, this is completely normal and there shouldn't be any expectation!)