6 Surprising Habits That Nuke Your Testosterone Levels

Testosterone is a crucial hormone for maintaining muscle mass, supporting brain function, and sustaining libido. Adequate testosterone levels are particularly important for men to avoid frailty and muscle weakness as they age. However, certain modern lifestyle habits can negatively impact testosterone production. By addressing these habits, it’s possible to maintain healthy testosterone levels well into old age.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. Being significantly overweight can compromise your body’s production of testosterone. On the flip side, losing weight may help restore testosterone levels. Research at St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, showed that weight loss could reduce the prevalence of low testosterone levels in overweight, middle-aged men by about 50 percent. Before considering testosterone therapy, overweight men with low testosterone should first try to lose weight through diet and exercise.

  2. Stay active. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to a reduction in your body’s production of testosterone. Exercise has been shown to increase testosterone levels, and research even indicates that much of the testosterone boost from physical activity may be produced in the brain. Lab studies show that engaging in light exercise, such as slow jogging, can bring about significant increases in the brain’s testosterone levels. The increase in testosterone has potential benefits for memory and learning, as it can boost the brain’s production of new neurons.

  3. Prioritize sleep. A lack of sleep can significantly decrease testosterone levels. Research from the University of Chicago shows that getting less than five hours of sleep per night reduces testosterone production. Low testosterone levels can, in turn, lead to reduced well-being and vigor, problems that can also occur as a result of sleep loss. In the U.S., one in every six adults gets less than five hours of sleep a night, which has many adverse health effects. Skipping sleep has been shown to reduce a young man’s testosterone levels by the same amount as aging 10 to 15 years.

  4. Foster social connections. Men who live in isolation generally have lower testosterone levels. Research in Australia found that married men have higher testosterone levels than single men, thanks to their higher level of socialization and increased frequency of sexual activity. Other research has shown that the mere act of smelling the scent of other people (particularly women) can increase testosterone levels.

  5. Pursue career growth and leadership opportunities. Men who are at the bottom of the corporate ladder may also be at rock bottom when it comes to testosterone production. Studies on primates have shown that males lower down the social hierarchy have lower testosterone levels. Interestingly, research on baboons showed that being in second in command could be more beneficial than being at the very peak of the power structure. Males near the top of the hierarchy had higher testosterone levels than those in charge.

  6. Handle losses gracefully. A joint study by researchers at Duke and the University of Michigan found that young men who voted for losing candidates in the 2008 Presidential election saw immediate drops in testosterone. According to Steven Stanton of Duke, this testosterone response affects future behavior in a way that eases the transition to a new social order: losers become more subdued so as not to challenge the new hierarchy further, while winners may be motivated to seek further social gains.

To maintain optimal testosterone levels, it’s important to prioritize a healthy lifestyle that includes weight management, regular exercise, adequate sleep, social interactions, and ambition. By doing so, you can support your endocrine system’s production of testosterone and other essential hormones for overall well-being.