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The best sport for over 50 men

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  • Is there such a thing as male menopause?
  • What consequences does a drop in testosterone levels have on the male body?
  • How do I know if I have a testosterone deficiency?
  • What effects does falling testosterone levels have specifically on the muscles?
  • How can you counteract age-related muscle loss?
  • What role does nutrition play in building muscle for people over 50?
  • How important is endurance training for men over 50?

If you exercise regularly, around the age of 50 you will notice that your body is no longer progressing as quickly as it used to. Here we will explain to you why this is the case and how you should adapt your training and diet to the changes in your body from your 50th birthday onwards. Plus: That’s why even previously unathletic men should start training now.

Is there such a thing as male menopause?

Not to the same extent as with women. “The production of the male sex hormone testosterone generally slows down gradually in men from the age of 40 to 50; the testosterone level decreases by 1 to 2 percent per year,” explains the Viennese sports doctor Dr. Christian Matthai, “In menopausal women, however, the production of the female sex hormone estrogen drops sharply to almost zero within a few years.”

That’s why the term “andropause” (translated: end of the man), which was based on the female “menopause” (end of the period, the last bleeding), is inappropriate. Instead, synonyms such as “partial androgen deficiency of the aging man” (PADAM) or “testosterone deficiency syndrome” or “age-related testosterone deficiency” have emerged.

By the way: “Men who exercise little and eat excessively and unhealthy foods can also be affected by a reduction in testosterone at a younger age,” says Dr. Matthai, “As a rule of thumb: the more belly fat, the lower the testosterone level.”

What consequences does a drop in testosterone levels have on the male body?

The slow decline in testosterone levels in the male body can lead to consequences comparable to estrogen withdrawal in women. Symptoms in men may (but do not have to) include: fatigue, fatigue, loss of libido, erection problems, reduction in sperm production, loss of muscle mass and bone density (osteoporosis) and weight gain, as well as a redistribution of body fat to the abdominal region.

All of these consequences are not only unpleasant, they also pose many serious health risks such as diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and depression. But you can and should do something about it.

How do I know if I have a testosterone deficiency?

If you are approaching your 50th birthday or have already passed it and some of the symptoms described above apply to you, you can have your testosterone level determined at a doctor’s office (urological or family doctor) or with a self-test. Men’s doctor Professor Dr. also offers a test based on a questionnaire. Summer on his homepage.

But you don’t have to know your exact testosterone levels. It is important that you adapt your exercise routine as you get older in order to react early and effectively to the negative consequences of your declining testosterone levels so that you stay fit and healthy well into old age.

What effects does falling testosterone levels have specifically on the muscles?

“Testosterone is an anabolic hormone, meaning it builds muscle and bones,” explains Dr. Matthai, “When testosterone levels fall, it becomes harder for the body to build muscle mass.” From a certain level onwards, muscle-degrading (catabolic) metabolic processes predominate over the course of life.

If you don’t take countermeasures, muscle mass will reduce by around 0.8 percent annually from the age of 50 onwards. From the age of 70, this muscle loss process accelerates, so that over the course of a man’s life, muscle mass decreases by up to 40 percent. “Sarcopenia” is the technical term for age-related muscle loss.

But that’s not all: “As the muscle percentage decreases, the body’s energy requirements also decrease,” explains Dr. Matthai, “Because muscles burn calories even when at rest.” The result: you gain weight. Although there are different types of fat distribution based on genetics, most excess fat usually ends up as visceral fatty tissue around the abdomen. And this is particularly unhealthy fat because it surrounds the internal organs and can trigger diseases such as type 2 diabetes and numerous inflammatory processes in the body.

You see, a “tummy” is not just an optical phenomenon, but can also indicate serious health risks. It doesn’t have to come to that. Because you can effectively counteract this with a sensible diet and strength and endurance training in order to stay strong, slim and healthy well into old age.

How can you counteract age-related muscle loss?

Do you already do strength training regularly? That’s good! But as you get older, you should revise your exercise routine, because unfortunately ‘business as usual’ is usually no longer enough:

If you’re already lifting weights regularly, you’ll need to step it up a notch when age-related testosterone deficiency begins. This means that you have to constantly provide new, higher training incentives, otherwise you will slowly lose muscle unnoticed despite training.

Even if lifting dumbbells hasn’t been your thing, you should want a set of dumbbells by your 40th birthday at the latest, otherwise muscle loss will slowly but surely occur, even with an active lifestyle. “Newcomers to strength training should initially carefully assess their fitness level according to their physical condition,” advises Dr. Matthai, “Even training with low weights has a training effect for beginners, with too high resistance at the beginning you risk injuries.”

It is important to pay attention to the correct balance when doing strength training: for example, to challenge both the abdominal and back muscles or the front and back of the thighs evenly in order to prevent the increased susceptibility to injury and pain caused by imbalances as people age.

You will not only be rewarded with more strength and a fit body well into old age. The risk of developing age-related pain also decreases because muscles protect your joints from wear and tear.

What role does nutrition play in building muscle for people over 50?

As you age, changes take place in your body’s metabolism. This also means that he is less able to absorb proteins, which are essential for maintaining and building muscle. “Muscle training without sufficient protein intake is like a racing car without fuel,” explains Dr. Matthai.

In order to build muscle, you have to keep an eye on the protein content in your food in addition to training, studies have shown. Nutritionist Dr. Matthai recommends at least 1.5 g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day to counteract muscle loss. These are the best sources of protein.

In addition to proteins, micronutrients, i.e. vitamins, minerals and trace elements as well as omega fatty acids, also play a major role in ensuring that important physical processes can take place. If they are missing, regeneration phases can be prolonged and muscular processes can be hindered. Therefore, make sure you have plenty of fruit, vegetables and healthy oils in your diet, and avoid nutrient thieves such as sugar and alcohol if possible.

By the way: “Stress increases cortisol levels in the body,” explains Dr. Matthai. Cortisol is a stress hormone that activates catabolic, i.e. degrading, metabolic processes – and thus also muscle breakdown. So make sure you have enough relaxation in your life so that the stress hormone cortisol doesn’t wreak havoc on your muscles. Tip, you guessed it: exercise reduces stress!

How important is endurance training for men over 50?

“From the age of 40, every man should give more importance to strength training and dedicate at least half of his sporting activities to building muscle. But endurance sports are and remain important,” says Dr. Matthai, “After all, the cardiovascular system benefits from endurance sports, which is fundamental for heart health.” With endurance sports you can prevent obesity and high blood pressure in the long term, and thus, among other things, the risk of a heart attack or stroke. And the risk of suffering a stroke increases statistically significantly with increasing age, as studies by the Robert Koch Institute show, for example.

However, anyone who has previously mainly done endurance sports, for example running regularly, should also do more strength training sessions from the age of 40 to counteract muscle loss. Dr. Matthai: “When running, the cardiovascular system is strengthened, but there is hardly any muscle building, especially in the upper body.”

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