Testosterone can impact fitness, here is how

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Fitness tends to emphasize two body parts: the heart and muscles. Although the two play a big role in getting results externally, exercise can greatly impact the overall quality of life. One of the most well-documented benefits is exercise’s impact on the hormone insulin. اضافة اعلان

Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas and is responsible for regulating blood sugar. Many studies have shown that regular exercise increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin and thus is now a fundamental course of action in preventing and managing type 2 diabetes.

But insulin is not the only hormone that benefits from exercise; testosterone, for example, is another one.

What is testosterone?
Testosterone is a sex hormone responsible for sexual development and reproduction. Testosterone is mostly known for its role in male development during puberty. As a result, testosterone is referred to as the male sex hormone, but this is a bit of a misnomer since women also produce testosterone in lesser amounts.

Males produce testosterone in the testes, whereas females produce it in their ovaries, and it is important beyond puberty.

How much is too little?
The normal range for testosterone in males is between 300–1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl), whereas, in females, the normal range is between 15–70ng/dl.

During puberty in males, testosterone production will increase approximately 30 times; as they age, the amount steadily declines. This is the combined result of the testes producing less testosterone, and the liver increases the production of a protein known as sex hormone binding globulin.

It is estimated that by 30, testosterones will continue to decline 1–2 percent each year. More than a third of men over 45 may have lower testosterone levels than normal. Testosterone that is too low in the body is known as male hypogonadism.

Global prevalence of male hypogonadism varies wildly, but it is estimated that 2.1–38.7 percent of middle-aged and older men have it. This prevalence only increases in those who are obese or have diabetes to roughly 50 percent.

In Jordan, the prevalence is relatively on par with global trends. A 2014 study found that 18.5 percent of all Jordanian participants had hypogonadism; this prevalence increased to 24.3 percent for those with diabetes.

What are the effects of low testosterone?

Testosterone serves a whole host of functions aside from its role in puberty. Having too little testosterone can impact men and women.

In men, physical changes can occur, such as reduced body and facial hair, loss of muscle mass, increased breast size, and reduced size of the testes. The reduced size of testes occurs alongside decreased libido, impotence, and reduced sperm count and fertility.

Testosterone helps reduce bone resorption, which is the process of bone being converted back into its basic components.

When testosterone levels are low, resorption increases, resulting in brittle bones that are more prone to fractures. Other symptoms include hot flashes, irritability, poor concentration, and depression.

And in women, the effects of low testosterone are fairly similar to that of men.

Why is testosterone important to health and fitness?
Aside from preventing all the aforementioned effects of low testosterone, maintaining normal levels can positively contribute to your health and performance in fitness.

As mentioned before, having too low testosterone can result in weakened bones. In our day-to-day lives, we experience wear-and-tear to almost all body parts, including the bones. As we age, our bones’ density naturally decreases, which can increase the likelihood of fractures. This holds especially true for those who put their body under high stress, such as weightlifters and participants in sports that are high impact.

Generally speaking, athletes tend to have a higher bone density than nonathletes, but any condition that can reduce bone density, such as hypogonadism, can increase the likelihood of a fracture during sports.

As a result, increasing or maintaining testosterone can help improve bone health. Additionally, testosterone also plays an important role in muscle mass. It is believed that testosterone increases muscle mass by increasing muscle protein synthesis. This ultimately results in decreased fat mass, increased muscle size, and increased strength.

Testosterone also aids in producing red blood cells, which are responsible for delivering oxygen to the tissues in the body, including muscles. Although studies are mixed on testosterone’s impact on endurance, increased red blood cells help you run and exercise longer while reducing fatigue.

Exercises to increase testosterone
Certain training regimens can potentially help increase your testosterone levels. Resistance training, such as weightlifting, has been shown to increase testosterone both in the short and long term.

This increase is particularly helpful for men regardless of age.

Resistance training also appears to increase testosterone levels in women, although only temporarily. Another form of exercise shown to help increase testosterone levels is high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

HIIT is a training program in which you cycle between high-intensity exercise followed by a brief recovery period. However, the increase in testosterone was only found to occur in men and not in women. In fact, HIIT has been shown to reduce testosterone in women, which may benefit women with too much.

Although HIIT can increase testosterone levels, cardio generally does not increase levels regardless of gender. In fact, too much cardio may reduce testosterone levels.

Diet is another way to increase testosterone levels naturally. One of the most important food groups regarding testosterone is fats. Testosterone is made from a fat known as cholesterol. Having too little fat in your diet can lead to lower testosterone levels. With that being said, having too much fat is not good either.

High-fat diets can be detrimental to your health, particular for the heart, and some evidence suggests that too much fat can reduce testosterone. Zinc can be used to increase testosterone. Zinc is commonly found in seafood, lean meats, and eggs, and 30mg a day has been shown to increase testosterone levels. Magnesium is another mineral commonly found in whole grains, leafy green vegetables, and dried beans. Magnesium actually increases the activity of testosterone as it acts as an antioxidant that helps reduce oxidative stress. This becomes particularly important in older people, and it is recommended to have 400–420mg per day.

Lastly, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to reduced production of testosterone. It is estimated that 89.7 percent of Jordanian adults have a vitamin D deficiency. One of the best sources of vitamin D is direct sunlight on the skin, but there are also food sources, albeit not as efficient.

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