Ashwagandha, an ancient herb used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, has garnered much attention in recent years for its powerful health benefits (1). Coupled with regular exercise, this versatile herb can be a game-changer for women's health, particularly for Black women. In this article, we will explore the benefits of ashwagandha and exercise for Black women, focusing on the impact of cortisol regulation.
Ashwagandha benefits for women
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a powerful adaptogen, known for its ability to help the body manage stress and maintain overall well-being (2). This herb is packed with antioxidants, and its stress-relieving properties can aid in reducing cortisol levels (3). Cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone, can have various negative effects on the body when it remains chronically elevated (4).
Research has shown that high cortisol levels can lead to weight gain, increased blood pressure, and a weakened immune system (5). Furthermore, Black women are disproportionately affected by stress-related health issues, such as hypertension, obesity, and diabetes (6). Incorporating ashwagandha into one's wellness routine can help alleviate stress and regulate cortisol levels, thus promoting improved health outcomes for Black women (7).
The Impact of Exercise
Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being (8). Exercise has been shown to provide numerous benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, increased strength and flexibility, and enhanced mental well-being (9). Additionally, working out can help mitigate the negative effects of stress by decreasing cortisol levels in the body (10).
For Black women, incorporating a consistent workout regimen can help counteract the increased risk of certain health conditions they may face, such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes (11). A combination of aerobic exercises, like walking or jogging, and strength training can promote cardiovascular health and build lean muscle mass, which is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight and metabolism (12).
Ashwagandha Workout Benefits
When combined, ashwagandha and exercise can work synergistically to provide even greater health benefits for Black women (13). The stress-relieving properties of ashwagandha can help improve workout performance and recovery by reducing cortisol levels, which can negatively impact muscle growth and repair (14).
Furthermore, ashwagandha can also increase energy levels, allowing for more vigorous and effective workouts (15). Improved workout performance, in turn, can lead to better stress management and a reduced risk of developing stress-related health conditions (16).
Incorporating Ashwagandha and Exercise into Your Wellness Routine
To reap the benefits of ashwagandha, consider taking it in supplement form like our Full Body Collagen + Ashwagandha powder. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement to ensure it is appropriate for your individual needs and to determine the proper dosage.
As for exercise, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week, along with muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days per week (17). Find activities you enjoy to make exercising a sustainable and enjoyable part of your lifestyle.
For Black women, the powerful combination of ashwagandha and regular exercise can lead to improved health outcomes and enhanced overall well-being. By incorporating these natural approaches into your wellness routine, you can effectively reduce cortisol levels, mitigate stress, and promote a healthier, more vibrant life.
(1) Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 34(3), 255-262. https://doi.org/10.4103/0253-7176.106022
(2) Dar, N. J., Hamid, A., & Ahmad, M. (2015). Pharmacologic overview of Withania somnifera, the Indian Ginseng. Cellular and molecular life sciences, 72(23), 4445-4460. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00018-015-2012-1
(3) Lopresti, A. L., Smith, S. J., Malvi, H., & Kodgule, R. (2019). An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract. Medicine, 4(5), 74. https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina4050074
(4) McEwen, B. S. (1998). Protective and damaging effects of stress mediators. New England Journal of Medicine, 338(3), 171-179. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJM199801153380307
(5) Chrousos, G. P. (2009). Stress and disorders of the stress system. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 5(7), 374-381. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrendo.2009.106
(6) Black, A. R., & Woods-Giscombé, C. (2012). Applying the Stress and 'Strength' Hypothesis to Black women's breast cancer screening delays. Stress and Health, 28(5), 389-396. https://doi.org/10.1002/smi.2461
(7) Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 34(3), 255-262. https://doi.org/10.4103/0253-7176.106022
(8) Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee. (2018). 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
(9) Warburton, D. E., Nicol, C. W., & Bredin, S. S. (2006). Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. CMAJ, 174(6), 801-809. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.051351
(10) Hill, E. E., Zack, E., Battaglini, C., Viru, M., Viru, A., & Hackney, A. C. (2008). Exercise and circulating cortisol levels: the intensity threshold effect. Journal of Endocrinological Investigation, 31(7), 587-591.
(11) Whelton, P. K., He, J., Appel, L. J., Cutler, J. A., Havas, S., Kotchen, T. A., ... & Wilson, P. W. F. (2002). Primary prevention of hypertension: clinical and public health advisory from The National High Blood Pressure Education Program. Jama, 288(15), 1882-1888.
(12) Donnelly, J. E., Blair, S. N., Jakicic, J. M., Manore, M. M., Rankin, J. W., & Smith, B. K. (2009). American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. Appropriate physical activity intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 41(2), 459-471.
(13) Wankhede, S., Langade, D., Joshi, K., Sinha, S. R., & Bhattacharyya, S. (2015). Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12(1), 1-11.
(14) Kraemer, W. J., & Ratamess, N. A. (2005). Hormonal responses and adaptations to resistance exercise and training. Sports Medicine, 35(4), 339-361.
(15) Shenoy, S., Chaskar, U., Sandhu, J. S., & Paadhi, M. M. (2012). Effects of eight-week supplementation of Ashwagandha on cardiorespiratory endurance in elite Indian cyclists. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 3(4), 209-214.
(16) Gerber, M., Brand, S., Herrmann, C., Colledge, F., Holsboer-Trachsler, E., & Pühse, U. (2014). Increased objectively assessed vigorous-intensity exercise is associated with reduced stress, increased mental health and good objective and subjective sleep in young adults. Physiology & Behavior, 135, 17-24.
(17) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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