As we age, we tend to see dips in testosterone. This isn’t ideal as testosterone is a key hormone in keeping both men AND women at optimal health with high energy, supple skin, good muscle mass and the ability to build it, strong sex drive, and the ability to cope with stress (a big one for the times we are currently in).
So, how do we keep our testosterone levels at their peak as we age? Read on for some tips to naturally support testosterone.
- Drop excess body fat, especially the stuff around the belly. You can better bet that if you are sporting a “beer belly” or just seem to carry your fat in your midsection that your testosterone is lower than it should be. In men, this belly fat actually secretes hormones (aromatase) that help to convert the testosterone you do make into estrogen.
- Move, but watch how you do it. The body doesn’t like chronic cardio. By this I mean long stints on the bike, endurance runs by the river, or tedious bouts on the elliptical or rowing machine. This drags on the body, just like it does on the joints, and the body responds with a drop in testosterone among other things. What the body loves hormonally, is “explosive” resistance training and some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Focus on the bigger muscle groups (think legs) and body parts that carry a high density of androgen receptor sites (shoulders and chest). Dead lifts (avoid if you have low back pain) and squats are some of the best testosterone producing movements out there. As always, consult your doctor before starting any new exercise routine. If you’re new to resistance training, start slow and steady with little to no weight to avoid injury.
- Make sure you aren’t deficient in vitamins and minerals. Eat a whole foods nutrient dense diet, don’t skimp on dietary fats, and get plenty of vitamin D by spending time in the sun. You might also consider supplementing with boron, iodine, selenium, magnesium, and/or a B vitamin complex. If you do supplement, ask your doctor before taking any new supplements.
- Manage your stress and cultivate meaningful relationships. This might not seem like a big deal, but it is. High stress and lack of companionship decrease testosterone. Think self-care practices such as prayer/intention setting, time in nature, meditation, journaling, or practicing gratitude — a combination would be best! Building connection through relationships definitely takes effort but it’s worth it and your body will thank you.
- Prioritize sleep. This is a BIG one! The majority of daily testosterone secretions occur during sleep. Poor sleep (due to restlessness, not enough hours, or sleep apnea for instance) is associated with reduced testosterone in both men and women. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that one week of short sleep (5 hours per night) reduced testosterone production by 10-15%.
There you have it! Four steps to start taking your health (and your hormones) into your own hands. Make the decision to take control of your body and say “NO” to low energy, poor mood, and suboptimal living.