As men age their testosterone levels fall, which is a problem for older athletes or even just the weekend warrior. Testosterone is vitally important for maintaining muscle and strength as well as healing and growth. Declining levels of testosterone can drastically and negatively affect athletic performance.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone produced by the testes and the adrenal glands. During puberty the hormone produces masculine characteristics such as a deep voice and body hair, but as we age the hormone is also responsible for an individual’s sex drive and the urge to compete. The benefit of the hormone that will be most important to athletes is that it is responsible for muscle development and strength.
What Happens to Men with Low T?
Levels of the hormone tend to peak when a man is in his mid twenties; after that, they begin to fall. If everything is perfect (such as diet, activity level, health) you should only lose about 1% of production every year. Aside from age, environmental exposures and other chronic illnesses can greatly and rapidly decrease your testosterone production. Testosterone deficiency does not always cause big problems; however, possible symptoms include:
- Loss of muscle mass
- Low bone density
- Increased fat mass
- Lack of focus
The Effects of Testosterone on Muscles
Testosterone causes an increase in the size of your muscle cells, this means that each individual muscle cell will grow. Because bigger muscles tend to also be stronger, your strength can be increased as a result. In turn, more muscle burns more calories and helps to establish and keep a better balance between lean muscle and excess body fat.
Non-Physical Benefits of Testosterone
Playing sports involves more than just physical strength and the body; a great deal of any athletic endeavor is mental as well. Testosterone can improve an individual’s sense of emotional wellbeing as well as their mental focus. Since the hormone has a great deal to do with the drive to compete, it can help there too. All of these things can help an athlete to improve their performance on the field of play.
Low T Treatment
The use of testosterone replacement therapy can help those who are both symptomatic and deficient in the hormone. If you play sports or just maintain a very active lifestyle and have recently noticed a decline in performance as a result of low T levels, you may see your performance improve with treatment. While taking testosterone is banned in many professional sports leagues its ability to increase muscle growth, focus and stamina are very helpful for a serious recreational athlete.
If you have low testosterone, testosterone treatments will not transform you into the perfect athletic specimen; however, it can likely help you to get stronger, boost your mood and give you an increased desire to perform.