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Is Low Testosterone Just a Part of Getting Older?

Getting older doesn’t mean you have to put up with declining testosterone. Staying healthy could keep your levels strong.

You can’t avoid getting older, but you don’t have to completely let go of your youth. According to new research, you may be able to maintain your testosterone levels by staying healthy.

In men, testosterone plays a role in masculine features and muscle strength, as well as energy level and sexual performance. Previous research has shown that testosterone levels start to drop at age 40, with 10 to 25 percent of men over age 50 showing low testosterone, according to WebMD.

A new study, presented at The Endocrine Society's 94th Annual Meeting in Houston, suggests that this well-documented decline in testosterone levels may be the result of health and behavior more than aging.

"Testosterone changes are largely explained by smoking behavior and changes in health status, particularly obesity and depression,” study co-author Gary Wittert, MD, said in a news release.

Researchers followed over 1,300 men for five years, measuring their testosterone levels at two different times. As with other research, the men showed a decline in testosterone of around one percent a year. This, however, was higher for certain groups of men—those who became obese or quit smoking, and those who were depressed at either visit.

In addition, testosterone levels declined more slowly in married men, possibly due to them being healthier and happier, along with more regular sex.

This study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, so the results should be considered preliminary. Other studies, however, have linked low testosterone with obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

There are already many other reasons for staying healthy—such as decreased risk of heart disease or cancer—but delaying low testosterone may be one nearest to your masculine heart—and other parts.

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