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Testosterone is Your Friend

Forward
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17

 

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Chapter 16: Exercise and Strength

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As one would expect, there is a large body of research regarding the effect of exercise on male testosterone levels, but very little on females. Also, the studies are often contradictory and  come with up varying results. The bottom line is that exercise helps normalize hormone levels and that certainly includes testosterone. This is especially true with women since they can have excessive as well as deficient levels. Having balanced hormone levels makes us stronger and gives us more endurance as well. One major reason that Americans have such out-of-sync hormone levels is our extreme inactivity. Regular exercise will help lower excessive hormone levels and raise deficient ones. Overtraining, however, such as with Olympic athletes or marathon runners is deleterious and hurts our health in the long run.

 

At the Baltimore branch of the National Institutes of Health (American Journal of Physiology, v. 283, 2002, pp. E284-94) the doctors were smart enough to study the free testosterone level of men. “Free Testosterone Index with Fat Free Mass and Strength in Aging Men”. They found that the higher the free testosterone level was a very good predictor of muscle strength in men ranging in age from 24 to 90. “Muscle mass and strength losses during aging may be associated with declining levels of serum testosterone in men.” They found also that the men with higher testosterone had more muscle mass and less body fat. They refer to many other studies that found the same results. They also refer to other research where supplemental testosterone in hypogonadal men resulted in more strength and more lean muscle mass. This was a most sophisticated study in great detail with 50 references.

 

An earlier study also published in the American Journal of Physiology (v. 282, 2002, pp. E601-7) at the University of Texas gave men with low testosterone injections of salts. Despite using the wrong type in the wrong way, they still elicited  powerful results in six months. “Older men receiving testosterone increased total leg lean body mass, muscle volume, and leg and arm muscle strength.” Imagine the results they would have gotten from using natural sublingual or transdermal testosterone.

 

The doctors at UCLA in Torrance (Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, v. 85, 2000, pp. 2839-53) were sophisticated enough to use transdermal gel in men. “Transdermal Testosterone Gel Improves Muscle Strength and Body Composition Parameters in Hypogonadal Men.” They found the usual increases in fat free mass, decreases in body fat, and impressive increases in strength and muscle size by also having the men exercise. “Mean muscle strength in the leg press exercise increases by 11 to 13 kg in all treatment groups by 90 days. Moderate increases were also observed in arm/chest muscle strength.” The many other benefits these men got are discussed in other chapters. This is good science by good researchers.

 

More modern doctors at the University of Connecticut (Journals of Gerontology, v. 56A, 2001, pp. M266-72) used transdermal testosterone patches (5 mg delivered daily) on elderly men (average age 76) for one year. Estrogen (estradiol and estrone) levels, PSA levels and prostate volume basically remained the same.   Their free, unbound levels of testosterone rose 75% from 3.2 nM to 5.6nM. “Strength increased 38% in the testosterone group.”  Body fat decreased significantly while lean body mass (muscle) increased as did their bone mineral density. Many other biological parameters were measured and this was a very professional long term study.

 

It is true that exercise will improve hormone levels dramatically for a few hours. We must remember this is a temporary phenomena, but it is very indicative of the power of exercise to balance our hormone levels. If you exercise regularly you will make permanent changes as long as you continue your program. At the University of Kanazawa in Japan (Horumon to Rinsho, v. 40, 1992, pp. 715-23) young men (average age of 24) exercised vigorously on stationary bicycles. Their growth hormone went up an amazing 1,850%! Their parathyroid hormone went up 182%. Their testosterone went up a full 110% or more than double. Vitamin D3, free T3, and free T4 all doubled. Insulin and C-reactive peptide both fell. This was an exceptionally intricate and unique study where dozens of such parameters were studied.

 

Studies at the University of Texas (Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine, v. 34, 1999, pp. 7-10) found strength benefits from both supplemental testosterone and growth hormone (rhGH). “In summary, testosterone administration to human patients will increase muscle strength and muscle protein synthesis and may stimulate intramuscular IFG-1 system. rhGH administration to human patients will improve muscle strength in GH-deficient adults and improve body composition in older individuals and GH-deficient adults.”

 

Fortunately at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland (Acta Physiologica Scandinavia, v. 148, 1993, pp. 199-207) women were included in such studies! Testosterone tends to fall in women as they age especially prior to menopause. “In the females significant positive correlations were observed between the individual values in serum testosterone concentration and the values both in the muscle cross sectional area (CSA) and in maximal force (physical strength). The present results imply that the decreasing basic level of blood testosterone over the years in aging people, especially in females, may lead to decreasing anabolic effects on muscles thus having an association with age-related declines in the maximal voluntary neuromuscular performance capacity in aging people.” They said further, “In the female subjects the individual values in serum testosterone correlated significantly with the individual values of maximal force, and with the individual values of maximal rate of force production as well as with the individual values of the CSA of older females.” The next year (Acta Physiologica Scandinavia, v. 150, pp. 211-19) a similar study was done. Serum testosterone went up and cortisol fell in both sexes during the 12 week training. “The present findings demonstrate that considerable gains may take place in strength during progressive strength training both in middle-aged and elderly people.” The findings also point out the importance of the anabolic hormonal level for the trainability of muscle strength of an individual during prolonged strength training especially in elderly males and females.”

 

The scientists at Pennsylvania State University also realized testosterone is important for women (European Journal of Applied Physiology, v. .78, 1998, pp. 69-76). Untrained women were given a three stage program of resistance exercise (weight lifting). Testosterone and growth hormone went up in the women while cortisol fell. “These data illustrate that untrained individuals may exhibit early-phase endocrine adaptations during a resistance training program. These hormonal adaptations may influence and help to mediate other adaptations in the nervous system and muscle fibers.” Research such as this shows women as well as men normalize and improve their entire endocrine balance with regular exercise in a very short time.

 

Female adolescent athletes were studied at Southeastern Lousiana University (European Journal of Applied Physiology, v. 86, 2001, pp. 85-91). “It appears therefore, that DHEA, DHEA-S, … testosterone, and leptin concentrations increase in response to running in adolescent female runners. Data also suggest that training and/or maturation increases resting testosterone concentra-tions and testosterone responses to running in adolescent female runners during a training session.” Again, exercise improves the hormonal profile in women of all ages including teenagers.

 

We have seen how scant the research is for women and there is no reason to go on with the hundreds of studies for men. Regular exercise is important to maintaining hormonal balance. Exercise will help lower those that are too high and raise those that are too low. If you are low in any hormones it is not enough to simply take a supplement. Life extension means living a healthy life style, not just taking supplements. You must eat well, exercise regularly and avoid bad habits (such as alcohol) that will unbalance your endocrine system. Maintaining youthful levels of all your basic hormones will make you more physically fit and give you more endurance and strength throughout your life.

 

 

 

 

 

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