Exercise associated hormonal signals as powerful determinants of an effective fat mass loss

Endocr Regul. 2015 Jul;49(3):151-63. doi: 10.4149/endo_2015_03_151.


Obesity management for achieving an effective weight loss includes dietary modification and exercise [resistance (strength), endurance (cardiovascular) or intervals training (high-intensity intermittent exercise)]. Regular exercise acutely increases fat oxidation, which induces loss of fat mass and increases energy expenditure. Moreover, it has a positive effect on the physical (improved insulin sensitivity, lipid profile, etc.) and mental health (mood, cognition, memory, sleep, etc.). Endocrine responses to muscle actions are affected by many factors, including the exercise muscle groups (lower and upper body), load/volume, time-under tension, and rest-period intervals between sets, training status, gender, and age. The aim of this review is to summarize, evaluate, and clarify the literature data focusing on the endocrine responses to different types of exercise, including the frequency, intensity, and type of movement with regard to the fat loss strategies. Many studies have investigated anabolic [growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), testosterone] and gluco- and appetite- regulatory (insulin, cortisol, ghrelin) hormone responses and adaptations of skeletal muscles to exercise. Muscle tissue is a critical endocrine organ, playing important role in the regulation of several physiological and metabolic events. Moreover, we are also describing the response of some other substances to exercise, such as myokines [irisin, apelin, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), myostatin, and fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21)]. It is proposed that reducing intra-abdominal fat mass and increasing cardiorespiratory fitness through improving nutritional quality, reducing sedentary behavior, and increase the participation in physical activity/exercise, might be associated with clinical benefits, sometimes even in the absence of weight loss.

Keywords: androgens; catecholamines; cortisol; exercise; fat mass lose; growth hormone; lipid oxidation; myokines..

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Appetite Regulation
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Hormones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss*


  • Hormones