Testosterone is not just something that makes men do crazy and risky stuff. It’s a hormone both men and women need to stay healthy and feel good. Your body is pretty good at maintaining healthy levels of testosterone if you do a few things right. But when one or more is missing from your lifestyle, you could get in trouble. Read on to find out how to develop the four most important habits.
Increase the quality and length of your sleep
A study from 2011 linked sleeping 5 hours a night to a 15 % reduction in testosterone levels. And even worse, an older study from 2007 showed that people who sleep only 4 hours a night had close to deficient testosterone levels. This is supported by other long-term studies and it works both ways. Studies show that each additional hour of sleep raises your testosterone levels, on average, by 15 %.
This is what you should do: Most people will do best with 7-8 hours of sleep but even 9 or 10 hours can be a good idea, especially if you exercise hard. If you want to learn more about how to improve the quality of your sleep, check out our sleep series.
Get enough vitamin D, preferably from sunshine
Vitamin D deficiency is now recognized as a pandemic. Sun exposure in moderation is the major source of vitamin D for most humans and, on average, we don’t get enough of it. Research shows that vitamin D has many health benefits among which is the fact it may work as a natural testosterone booster. A study from 2011 found that supplementing with 3,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day increased testosterone levels by around 25 %.
This is what you should do: Get regular sunlight exposure every day. During winter and periods of time where you’re not getting enough direct sun, consider supplementing 3,000 IU of a vitamin D3 daily.
Exercise regularly, lift heavy things
A large 2012 review study showed that people who exercise regularly had higher testosterone levels. Exercise is so important for healthy testosterone levels that it showed up as a more important factor than weight loss in obese men.
This is what you should do: Resistance training (weight lifting, gymnastics, etc.) is the best type of exercise for boosting testosterone. High-intensity interval training also shows good results in studies. But virtually any type of exercise you do regularly will have a notable positive effect on testosterone.
Reduce stress and cortisol
Cortisol is a hormone that is produced when you experience stress. It helps you short-term but has been shown to negatively affect your health when elevated chronically. The problem is that cortisol is “competing” with testosterone, meaning when cortisol goes up, testosterone goes down, and vice versa. Stress and elevated cortisol can also increase food intake, weight gain, and storage of dangerous organ fat which negatively impacts your testosterone levels too.
This is what you should do: Developing a good stress-management strategy is key. It helps to exercise and get good sleep regularly, eat a diet based around whole foods, and balance stressful life events with relaxation, socialization, and laughter. For more info on how to deal with stress, check out our series.