Our body’s hormones are responsible for regulating many bodily functions. They play a very intricate dance with each other and its target cells which makes understanding the anatomy of the endocrine system and its importance for optimal human movement significant. Hormones are secreted from glands and travels through the bloodstream. There are various glands in the body secreting specific types of hormones that literally affect all forms of human function. Some of those functions are our body’s metabolism, mood, growth, development, tissue function, triggering muscle contraction, stimulating protein and fat synthesis, activating enzyme systems, and determining how the body will physically and emotionally respond to stress.
The endocrine system consists of the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, adrenal gland, ovary, and testis. The pituitary gland has two lobes that help control the functions of the other endocrine glands. The pituitary gland secrets growth hormones, hormones to control skin pigmentation, and hormones that increases the absorption of water into the blood and kidneys. The thyroid gland releases hormones responsible for carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, basal metabolic rate, protein synthesis, sensitivity to epinephrine, heart rate, breathing rate, and body temperature. The adrenal gland helps prepare the body for activity by increasing the heart rate and stroke volume, elevating blood glucose levels, distributing blood to working tissues, and opening up the airways. This is also known as the “fight or flight” response. Estrogen is primarily produced in the ovaries of a female and a small amount is produced in the adrenal glands of a male. Estrogen has many functions but it particularly influences fat deposits around the hips, buttocks and thighs. Testosterone is produced in the testis of a male and a small amount in the ovaries and adrenal glands of a female. Testosterone plays a fundamental role in the growth and repair of tissue.
An important fact to mention is that the levels of all three; growth, testosterone, and cortisol hormones increase after strength training and vigorous exercise. Growth hormones increase the development of bone, muscle tissue and protein synthesis; it increases fat burning; and strengthens the immune system. While cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands and helps maintain a proper supply of energy. In contrast, overtraining has been found to lower testosterone levels while raising cortisol levels. High levels of cortisol can lead to a significant breakdown of muscle tissue and other potential harmful side effects.
Diabetes is the result of too much sugar in the blood. Therefore, it is worth learning about the interrelationship between the two hormones that regulate sugar levels. Control of blood glucose is regulated by the pancreas. Insulin regulates energy and glucose regulates metabolism. Elevated levels of glucose in the blood trigger the pancreas to release insulin resulting in a drop of blood glucose levels. Thus insulin causes cells in the liver, muscle and fat tissue to take up glucose from the blood, storing it as glycogen in the liver and muscle. Low sugar levels are exhibited hours after a meal, after physical activity, and after normal metabolic processes. When this happens the pancreas triggers the liver to covert the stored glycogen into glucose to release into the bloodstream; thus, raising the glucose levels in the blood.
Hormones produced by the endocrine system affects all functions of the human body. The best way to maintain a healthy balance of the endocrine system is through proper nutrition, physical activity, getting enough sleep, and avoiding the use of drugs and alcohol. It is pertinent to understand how hormones respond to exercise; during physical activity glands are stimulated to increase the secretion of hormones. However, it is vital to maintain healthy balance and avoid overtraining.