Editor's note: This post was originally published in March 2016 and has been updated and revamped for accuracy.
Human Growth Hormone (HGH), produced by the pituitary gland, is responsible for many important functions of almost all of our tissues and organs, enhancing growth, especially of muscle and bone.
HGH promotes the following:
- Increased fat burning
- Increased muscle mass
- Better athletic performance
- Longer endurance
- Younger/tighter skin and hair
- Deeper sleep
- Stronger bones
- Hormone balance
- Healthy cholesterol profiles
- Heart health
- A good mood
- Mental clarity/better memory
- Immune system strength
- General anti-aging
- A longer life
We all could use more of that! HGH secretion gradually declines with age, increasing adipose tissue (cellulite), lowering LDL, and decreasing lean body mass. HGH levels can also diminish with stress, poor sleep patterns, a less than ideal nutritional status and too much of the wrong kind of exercise. Stressful lifestyles (including too much lengthy/endurance-type exercise), produces stress hormones which break down muscle tissue, inhibit repair and interfere with sleep.
Symptoms of low HGH levels can include:
- Low basal metabolic rate
- Decreased stamina
- Decreased muscle mass and strength
- Weight gain
- Increased hip-to-waist ratio
- Increased body fat
- Low libido
- Low energy
- Impaired mental well-being/higher risk for depression and anxiety
- Weak immune system function
- Accelerated aging - reduced skin elasticity/thickness and greying hair
- Higher risk of cardiovascular disease
- Decreased bone mineral density
- Impaired cognitive ability/memory loss
The good news? Exercising smarter will give you a natural HGH boost, regardless of your age. The right kind of exercise is a strong trigger for HGH secretion resulting in stress reduction, restful sleep, protein synthesis and mobilization of fat stores from adipose tissue, using fat as a source of fuel.
The most effective type of exercise to raise HGH levels is strength training. The body should be pushed to the limit with exercises focused on strength and intensity, ideally through weight training (squats, bench press, deadlifts etc.) performing 3 sets of 5-8 reps at max effort. If you are not experienced with this type of weight training, it is critical that you get the proper instruction and guidance from a personal trainer, who is trained in how to do this properly without causing injury.
Strenuous short bursts of anaerobic (HIIT) type exercise (such as sprints) will also enhance HGH levels, but to a lesser degree. Research has shown that people who used High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) lost nine times more fat than people who performed standard cardio exercise (even though they exercised 1/2 the amount of time and as long and expended 50% less calories). This result is due to high HGH levels secreted after HIIT. Long, endurance-type cardio will not provide the same results and will actually work against you. The higher the intensity, the higher the HGH output, which has fat burning effects that can last up to 2 days post workout. Again, it is imperative that you learn how to perform this type of exercise properly and under the guidance of a trainer, if you are inexperienced.
Nutritional status is also key in enhancing HGH levels. Results will be maximized if you are consuming a nutrient rich diet, supplying your body with the right proteins, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.
If you are in need of nutritional guidance or recommendations for the right Personal Trainer who is familiar with this type of exercise, please do not hesitate to call our office, we are happy to be a health resource for you.
As a wife and mother of two active little boys, Dr. Taglio understands that life is busy and can easily get out of balance. She knows how important healthy habits are in maintaining a healthy family. She is committed to addressing the whole body and takes a multi-pronged approach to improving the function of the nervous system, by removing nerve interference through chiropractic, addressing nutritional components and incorporating neuromuscular re-education to maintain spinal health and stability. She has made it her mission to help people not only feel great, but also help them reach their highest potential, in whatever their endeavors are. She has a love for children and their healing through chiropractic and nutrition.