An essential part of my wellness routine is taking the time to test my male hormones very frequently, especially watching for fluctuations relating to overdoing it in training. It’s always a smart idea to go get an annual checkup at the doctor and test “regular” markers for health, like blood pressure, EKG, and fasting glucose, but emerging research suggests we have vastly more valuable “real life” markers of performance, vitality, and longevity potential. Some require lab testing, but many of them are practical and within reach to test frequently.
While I was pleased to learn from a recent, quick visit to the lab for another male hormone panel that I still remain in the 95th percentile for males 55+, let us all remember that norms and averages are so pathetic these days—therefore we need to strive to be at the top of the scale to even consider ourselves healthy and protective against today’s epidemic, accelerated decline into dysfunction and demise. As Jay Leno said once, “Overweight people are now ‘average’ in America. Which means you’ve already met your New Year’s resolution.”
Keeping an eye on the emerging research that has confirmed some really simple and easy-to-track markers as the best predictors of longevity and disease prevention, these are the things I focus on, and suggest you do too:
Fitness markers: A study of 66,000 people by the Cooper Institute reveals one’s time in the one-mile run at age 50 is an outstanding predictor of longevity. Other major research says the same for grip strength, squat competency, and pushup competency. Dr. Maffetone likes the aerobic function (MAF) test (comfortably paced, done on a running track or other measured course at “180-age” heart rate) and Dr. Peter Attia’s book Outlive talks about VO2 Max as a great longevity marker (a more intense effort done in a lab). Personally, I’m pursuing specific athletic goals that appeal to me and I believe are also correlated with health and longevity. My passion for high jump sets a high bar for me to jump over to preserve my youthful spirit and athleticism. I’m also interested in masters age group track & field competition. You would not believe the level of performances you see amongst older athletes. Listen to my recent podcast interview with Lion Martinez of Sweden, who in 2023 broke the world record for men over age 45 in the 100 meters with an unreal time of 10.72. Listen to my podcast interview with women’s 400-meter world champion Cynthia Monteleone, who also coaches many other champion masters and elite level athletes with her unique holistic approach. I have a future podcast with USA track & field masters athlete of the year named Sue McDonald, who is shattering records in a variety of events at the age of 60!
Blood work: Male hormone panels and libido in general are a good proxy for overall health. If you have metabolic dysfunction, poor fitness, visceral fat, or an overly-stressful lifestyle, this will show up in your hormone panels. And guess what? TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) is not a quick fix. You need to address the cause before considering exogenous hormones, otherwise you are at risk of your extra testosterone getting aromatized (converted) into estrogen if you are metabolically unhealthy. As I’ve detailed on many podcasts, strive to optimize all your lifestyle elements that affect testosterone status before considering a hormone replacement.
Spare tire: The accumulation of a spare tire is the most obvious and destructive example of accelerated aging and hormone dysfunction. Getting softer around the middle as the decades pass is not normal aging, but a sign of damage from overly-stressful lifestyle practices, poor exercise habits (including too much), and a shitty diet. Also, it’s a slippery slope because a little spare tire begets a bigger one due to aromatization of testosterone into estrogen. This is the ultimate battle to fight to preserve adaptive hormones and delay aging! Men are more susceptible, but it’s highly relevant for women.
Your goal is to have your waist circumference be less than half of your height. Measure your waist (the widest part, near your belly button line) and compare it to your height. I’m 70.5 inches tall with a 30-inch waist. Someone my height with a 36-inch waist would be classified as “overfat.” Dr. Phil Maffetone details this concept in his book, The Overfat Pandemic. Remember, the visceral fat that accumulates around the abdominal organs is vastly more health destructive than subcutaneous fat that is mostly metabolically inactive.
Got any more questions or comments about testing to track longevity, vitality, and for disease prevention? Post a comment on my Instagram or send me an email about it, and I’ll either comment back or respond in an upcoming Q&A show!