The endocrine system consists of glands that release the chemicals and hormones that control physiological functions in the body. Some of those glands have a direct response to exercise and include the pituitary gland, the thyroid gland, the adrenal gland, and the pancreas. Chemical messengers released by these glands play a key role in making sure your body works the way it should. Let’s just scratch the surface and mention some of the most important and meaningful impacts that hormones play during exercise.
The Pituitary Gland: releases human growth hormone which tells the body to increase bone, muscle and tissue production. Bouts of heavy weightlifting will stimulate the release of luteinizing hormone from your pituitary gland, which triggers testosterone production. (Testosterone increases metabolism. WIN.) It also releases endorphins which block your sensitivity to pain and can reduce tension or anxiety and leave you feeling like a rockstar.
The Thyroid Gland: sends out hormones that regulate the body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. Intense bursts of training stimulate the release of thyroxine from your thyroid gland which also speeds up metabolism.
The Adrenal Gland: releases cortisol into the bloodstream which acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. It also turns stored carbohydrates into energy.
The Pancreas: secretes insulin, which regulates glucose and transports it to the muscles and tissues that use glucose for energy.
As you age, you may notice a decrease in your endocrine functions and output. Regular exercise (5 days a week) can help keep these systems pumping and slow the aging process. It can also decrease your risk for certain diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, obesity and cancer.
So eat clean, pet your dog, kiss your kids, high-five your coworkers and high-tail it to the gym regularly. Your body will thank you daily: today, in 1 yr, in 5 yrs and in 20 yrs. Keep it up.