After the age of 30, our testosterone decreases significantly. In fact, it declines one percent annually for the rest of our lives. This decline can be even more after the age of 40 – two percent or more. A deficiency in testosterone isn’t rare for men. Five million men are diagnosed with the condition every year, and there are more than 12 million who don’t even realize they have it, according to the International Journal of Clinical Practice.
Low Testosterone Means Less Muscle
Testosterone is a major component of manhood. It affects how we build muscle and manage our weight. Men with high testosterone levels have an easier time building muscle. This muscle is what helps them do more in their endurance training.
While most endurance trainers don’t want to be bulky, a decrease in muscle mass can lead to fatigue, affecting performance claims John Morley, M.D. from St. Louis University School of Medicine. Muscle power is important for endurance when training. It’s why we have to incorporate strength training into our workouts. However, when men have low testosterone levels, they struggle to build the muscle needed to increase endurance.
It’s not only the low testosterone that affects endurance, but its effects compound it. Testosterone increases red blood cell count, endocrinologist Bradley Anawalt, M.D. from the University of Washington says. Red blood cells have an important job of transporting oxygen to the muscles. When there’s plenty of oxygen because testosterone levels and red blood cell counts are high, people can move faster for longer. However, the opposite is true if testosterone levels are low – low red blood cell counts mean less oxygen reaches the muscles, which negatively affects performance.
What’s Causing Low Testosterone?
Age affects testosterone levels, but there are other factors that contribute to it. In a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, low testosterone levels were seen in participants who lacked quality sleep. Actually, those who rated their quality of sleep poorly had a 15 percent drop in testosterone.
Testosterone levels can decrease due to certain medications. Narcotics for pain relief seem affect testosterone the most. The good news is that discontinuing opioids can recover testosterone levels.
Overtraining is another reason for low testosterone levels, which can be a surprise to many people. Exercising temporarily increases testosterone, but there’s a line that can be crossed. A study by the University of British Columbia found that male runners who ran 40 miles a week had lower testosterone levels than those who ran shorter distances. Researchers believe it has to do with elevated cortisol levels, which is why it’s important for us to make sure we don’t do more than we’re ready for and get the proper rest and nutrition for training.
Testing for Low Testosterone
Men usually suspect a problem when they start feeling fatigued and experience sexual issues. This usually motivates them to see their doctor who can easily test for low testosterone with morning blood tests. Two blood tests, one week apart, must be given to see if testosterone levels fall below 300 ng/dL.
How to Preserve Testosterone as You Age
Not all hope is lost when we start to experience a decline in testosterone. There are ways to help maintain testosterone levels.
● Lower stress levels, as stress can adversely affect testosterone levels.
● Get at least 7 hours a sleep at night.
● Include intervals in your workout.
● Strength train often.
● Work your lower body with sprints.
● Ensure you get the recommended dose of vitamin D, which is 3000 IU/day.
● Quit smoking.
● Take zinc and fish oil supplements.
● Increase protein intake.
● Consume fat from animal products.
● Decrease rest times when in the gym.
● Avoid overtraining.
We can’t do much in the way of aging, but we can ensure we take steps to preserve our testosterone levels as much as possible. All we can do is the best we can with what we have, no matter our age.