In today’s goal oriented society where everyone is looking for an edge. One factor contributing to that edge, especially for men, is testosterone. This hormone gets a lot of credit for everything from physical strength and performance to performance in bed. Yet it is the lack of this all important male hormone that concerns most men. Men’s testosterone levels naturally decline steadily from the age of 27, and then more rapidly after the age of 35. So if you’re over the age of 35, you should incorporate some of these recommendations into your lifestyle.
Most men have enough T in their system for their needs, even as they age. Artificially raising T levels by using drugs is not necessary in 95% of the cases. What you need to do to boost T is to start by looking at your daily habits. The most common theme related to low T levels is stress. You will clearly see that everything that improves stress and its sequalae will improve your T levels.
Just so we are clear, testosterone is a naturally occurring hormone that plays a vital role in both men and women – although it does present itself in higher concentrations in men. It’s the predominant male sex hormone, and also plays a significant role in optimizing a number of sought-after traits of men including:
- Higher muscle mass
- Higher energy levels
- Improved cognition
- Decreased risk of osteoporosis
- Increased libido
- Better insulin management
However if you have low testosterone you may suffer from some or all of the following:
- Lack of confidence
- Difficulty sleeping
- Low energy levels
- Loss of desire to have sex
- Higher fat storage
Here are four lifestyle choices that will naturally contribute to a higher testosterone level:
1. Get Enough Sleep.
It doesn’t get more natural than a good night’s sleep. As early as 1975, scientists found that total T increases over night and it is released episodically. A University of Chicago study showed that lack of sleep can greatly reduce a healthy young man’s testosterone levels. That effect is clear after only one week of shortened sleep. Testosterone levels were particularly low between 2:00 and 10:00 p.m. on sleep-restricted days. Study participants also reported a decreased sense of well-being as their blood testosterone levels dropped.
How much sleep your body needs depends on many factors, but the National Sleep Foundation suggests that adult males generally need between seven and nine hours per night.
George Yu, MD, a urology professor at the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., says that, for many men with low testosterone, poor sleep is the most important factor. A lack of sleep affects a variety of hormones and chemicals in your body. This, in turn, can have a harmful impact on your testosterone.
Make sleep a priority, aiming for seven to eight hours per night, even if it means rearranging your schedule or dropping your habit of late-night TV. Prize your sleep, just like you'd prize a healthy diet and active lifestyle. It's that important. If you're having problems getting good sleep on a regular basis it may be related to stress.
2. Keep a Healthy Weight.
It is not just body image that may affect your sex drive and that of your partner. Men who are overweight or obese often have low testosterone levels, says Alvin M. Matsumoto, MD, of the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. For those men, losing the extra weight can help bring testosterone back up, he says. As your waist size goes up, your testosterone goes down. In fact, a 4-point increase in your body mass index—about 30 extra pounds on a 5'10" guy—can accelerate your age-related T decline by 10 years.
It is not uncommon for overweight, middle-aged men with pre-diabetes to also have low testosterone levels. A 2012 study revealed that weight loss among men with pre-diabetes improved their testosterone levels by almost 50 percent. The results showed that low testosterone levels are common in overweight men with pre-diabetes, said study co-author Frances Hayes, MD, professor at St. Vincent's University Hospital, Dublin. At the beginning of the study, nearly one in four men had low testosterone levels. The increase in testosterone levels correlated with decreasing body weight and waist size.
3. Stay Active.
One of the best ways of losing wait is to exercise and be active. Studies show an increase in total testosterone levels after exercising, especially after resistance training. Low testosterone levels can affect your sex drive and your mood, but the good news is that exercise improves mood and stimulates brain chemicals that help you feel happier and more confident. Exercise also boosts energy and endurance and helps you sleep better. All that can help with your sex drive and sexual performance, too. Fitness experts recommend 30 minutes of exercise every day. If you spend most of your time lying on the couch, your brain gets the message that you don't need as much to bolster your muscles and bones. But, when you're physically active, your brain sends out the signal for more of the hormone.
If you're getting little exercise now, Miner suggests starting by:
- Walking briskly at least 10 to 20 minutes a day.
- Take a Yoga class which is low impact and works all aspects of the body
- Building strength with several sessions of weights or elastic bands each week. Work with a trainer to learn proper form so you don't injure yourself.
Don't go overboard. Extreme amounts of endurance exercise -- working out more than 45 minutes-- can increase cortisol and lower your T.
4. Take Control of Your Stress.
Mental or physical stress can quickly depress your T levels says Sharyn Galindo of North Shore Yoga in Northfield, Illinois. Cardio can be a great tension tamer, unless you overdo it. Injuries and fatigue are signs that your workout is more likely to lower T than raise it she said.
If you're under constant stress, your body will churn out a steady stream of the stress hormone cortisol. When it does, it will be less able to create testosterone. So, controlling your stress is important for keeping up your testosterone, says Galindo .
Galindo's advice to the over-stressed men is to:
- Cut back on long work hours. If you're logging lots of overtime, try to whittle your workday down to 10 hours or less.
- Spend 2 hours a day on activities you like that aren't work- or exercise-related, such as reading or playing music.
- Get plenty of sleep
- Exercise 30 to 45 minutes 6 days a week. She says Yoga is a particularly good activity that has a threefer of reducing stress, improving flexibility and increasing fitness levels.
- Practice some form of meditation to reduce stress and cortisol
Decreasing testosterone levels do not have to get you down and ruin your sex life. You can naturally increase T levels by adhering to the lifestyle advice given in this article. Get plenty of sleep, keep a healthy weight, exercise and decrease stress through