Train coaching improved artery well being and performance in middle-aged and older males
Twelve weeks of exercise improved arterial health and function in middle-aged and older men (ages 50-70 years old) with low to normal testosterone levels, while testosterone therapy was of no benefit to the arteries, according to a new study published today in Hypertension , a journal of the American Heart Association.
The natural aging process in men includes decreased testosterone levels and a decrease in physical activity with age, leading to deterioration in arterial health and function. Testosterone replacement therapy is commonly used to manage symptoms of a decrease in testosterone levels, including low energy, reduced muscle mass, and decreased vitality. In the absence of new clinical indications, testosterone sales have increased tenfold worldwide over the past few decades.
The worldwide increase in testosterone consumption has been very large, especially among middle-aged and older men who might consider it a restorative hormone for increasing energy and vitality. However, previous studies have mixed up on whether or not replacement testosterone is beneficial, or whether it provides added benefit beyond the effects of an exercise program. “
Daniel J. Green, Ph.D., Study Author, Winthrop Professor, Cardiovascular Movement Physiology Researcher, School of Human Sciences, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Green and colleagues rated men 50 to 70 years old with no history of cardiovascular disease that were greater than normal waist size and testosterone levels in the low to normal range. The researchers also excluded current smokers, men currently on testosterone, or men taking drugs that would alter testosterone levels. At the beginning and at the end of the study, the researchers measured artery function using a method that increases blood flow within an artery. This will assess whether the inner lining of the artery is healthy and may help the artery grow or widen.
The 12-week study included 78 men who were randomized into four groups: 21 men received topical testosterone and completed a supervised exercise program with aerobic and strength exercises two to three times a week; 18 men received testosterone without exercise; 20 men received a placebo and no exercise; and 19 men received a placebo with exercise. The training was supervised at a research high school at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth and the program was supervised by an accredited exercise physiologist (AEP).
The researchers found:
Testosterone treatment raised hormone levels to above average levels in 62% of the men in the treatment groups.
Exercise training also increased testosterone levels; However, the values were highest in the men in the groups who received the testosterone supplement.
Artery function and health improved in the groups that received exercise training; However, no improvement was seen in those who received testosterone without exercise.
Artery function in response to tests improved 28% in the group that trained without testosterone and 19% in the group that received a combination of testosterone and exercise.
The researchers didn’t see any changes in other tests that stimulated muscle cells in the center of the arterial wall after exercise, testosterone treatment, or the combination of both.
“The results of our study suggest that if you’re a healthy, but relatively inactive, middle-aged or older man with an increased waistline and worried about your risk of heart attack, stroke, or diabetes, an exercise program with some support and supervision can help to improve the function and health of your arteries, “said Green. “Testosterone therapy can have some benefits, such as increasing muscle mass in the legs. However, we haven’t found any benefits in terms of arterial function, which is a determinant of future cardiovascular risk.”
Green noted that the small size of the study is a limitation, and this study lays the foundation for larger studies that could lead to health recommendations for men.
American Heart Association
Chasland, LC, et al. (2021) Testosterone and Exercise in Middle to Older Men. Hypertension. doi.org/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.120.16411.