Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

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Runners' testes stay young

Somewhere between 30 and 40 most men's testosterone levels start to decline. How rapid that decline is depends on your lifestyle. The healthier you are, the less the decline. [Urology. 2003 Mar;61(3):629-33.] Researchers at the University of Central Florida discovered a new lifestyle factor that can help men to keep their testosterone levels up: moderate endurance training.

Experiments have shown that intensive training lowers the testosterone level. But animal studies have shown that this reduction is less the longer the training period. Might the body adjust if you keep training for long enough? Might you even ultimately be able to retain your normal testosterone level? And would this change prevent your testosterone level from dropping later in life?

To answer these questions the researchers set up an experiment in which they got mice to run an average of 1.75 km every day in a running mill [runners]. The mice were six months old when the trial started, and two years old when the researchers stopped the experiment. A control group did not run throughout the eighteen-month period [sedentary].

The seminal vesicles and the testes of the runners were smaller at the end of the eighteen months than those of the sedentary mice.

Runners' testes stay young

In this case all good things do come in small packages: the runners' testosterone level was three times as high as that of the sedentary mice. What's more, the runners' testes produced twice as much sperm.

Runners' testes stay young

When the researchers examined the cells in the testes for signs of free radical damage, they found less of the radical hydrogen peroxide in the runners' testes. They also found less 8-isoprostane [formed when free radicals damage membranes], less nitrotyrosine [formed when the radical NO attacks amino acids] and less protein carbonyl [arises when proteins oxidise].

Runners' testes stay young

Other markers showed that there was less damage to the genetic material of the runners, and that their testes cells made fewer endogenous antioxidants.

Lifelong running would seem to reduce cell wear and tear. How this works the study does not throw much light on.

"Running protects against aging related oxidative stress and oxidative stress induced lipid peroxidation in testes", the researchers conclude. "As oxidative damage is implicated in many age-related diseases, by reducing oxidative stress, exercise may protect the testes against dysfunction and disease during aging."

Strength training raises the testosterone level by 40 percent. It would be interesting to find out what happens if you combine strength training with moderate cardio training.

Lifestyle and nutrition factors that raise your testosterone level include more sleep, supplemental zinc and ginger, olive oil, strength sports, and a healthy eating pattern in general [Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2009 Mar;70(3):455-63.] To name but a few.

J Endocrinol. 2008 Nov; 199(2): 333-41.

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