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    Low Testosterone Linked with Difficulty Walking in Older Men

    Posted: September 9, 2021

    Did you know low testosterone may increase your risk for difficulty walking as you get older? This is a serious problem for many men that can actually predict many other health issues, including reduced physical function. There may be many reasons behind why low testosterone levels may lead to difficulty walking. Fortunately, treatment is available to help bring your testosterone levels into healthy ranges. This may also help improve walking abilities for men with low T

    Man getting ready for a walk after getting treated for low testosterone

    Low testosterone may make it hard to do many things. Some studies even suggest it can reduce scores on walking tests designed to look at physical function.

    Low Testosterone May Make Walking More Difficult with Age

    Testosterone has long been associated with physical performance. Even many athletic commissions and sports organizations have banned the use of testosterone due to concerns around cheating. However, what happens when men produce lower levels of testosterone than average? Often this comes with many symptoms, side effects, and health risks. Some studies suggest that low testosterone may even make it more difficult for older men to walk. 

    With the interest surrounding testosterone and physical performance, several studies have looked at how low T might affect different indicators of physical function. For instance, many use the six-minute walk test to help research any relationship between testosterone and physical function. Some studies have found that low testosterone may decrease performance for physical function tests like walking tests. 

    Why is Walking an Important Marker for Health?

    So, why should you care about walking speed, walking distance, and other walking test scores like the ability to climb a set of stairs? Aside from dashing your dreams of being the world’s next race walking Olympic champion (it’s a thing), it can actually be a marker for your overall health. Many researchers use walking tests because it can help provide insights into physical function. Some even use both walk speed and the ability to walk up a flight of stairs as two factors that contribute to frailty, which can help predict later disability. Walking speed tests are often used to determine mobility. Limited mobility and poor physical function can have significant effects on quality of life and independence. Therefore, difficulty walking is certainly something you want to prevent as much as possible. 

    Why Might Low Testosterone Reduce Walking Test Scores?

    So, why might testosterone levels affect walking and physical function test scores? There may be several explanations. We do know that the risk for declining testosterone levels increases with age, as does the risk for reduced physical performance, mobility issues, and more. Testosterone deficiency can also cause many different symptoms, like fatigue, that might make it more difficult to perform well on walking tests. However, some researchers also suggest that some physical side effects that many men with low T face could explain why the condition might make walking harder. For instance, changes in body composition and bone mineral density. 

    Low T Can Decrease Muscle Mass and Increase Fat Mass

    One major way testosterone can affect you physically is your body composition. Lower testosterone levels can lead to losing muscle mass and gaining fat mass. Testosterone plays a vital role in building muscle, increasing tissue growth and also the creation of proteins in your body that repair muscles after exercise. Therefore, lower levels can mean that you have less lean body mass. As muscle mass decreases, fat mass in your body may also increase. These changes in your body composition can affect you physically, including making it more difficult to walk and perform other day-to-day tasks. 

    Low Testosterone Can Reduce Bone Mineral Density

    Low testosterone can also affect your bone strength and bone mineral density. Men with testosterone deficiency may actually have an increased risk for developing osteoporosis, or bones that are weaker than normal. This can also lead to mobility issues which may contribute to difficulty walking and lower scores on walking tests. It can also reduce physical function and increase the risk of fractures, even when doing normal things like bending down to tie your shoes, or sneezing. Therefore, this may also contribute to why men with hypogonadism (low T) may have difficulty walking later in life. 

    Can Testosterone Replacement Help Improve Walking and Physical Function?

    Testosterone replacement is a common way to help treat low testosterone. This involves taking testosterone to increase the levels in your body. The goal of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is to bring your testosterone levels into healthy ranges. This can help reduce symptoms of low T such as fatigue, low muscle mass, and low libido.

    Much research and anecdotal evidence has found that TRT for men with hypogonadism may help improve body composition and bone density. Many men using testosterone injections for low T find that they have more muscle mass and less fat mass. Some evidence suggests testosterone may also help protect the bones.  

    However, can TRT help improve walking, mobility, and physical function? Research suggests yes. One study from 2018 looked at data from testosterone trials and walking test scores, which assessed walking speed, walking distance, and mobility. The men in the testosterone therapy group noticed improvements in their scores, including in walking distance over the six minute walking test. On average, the men in the TRT group with good baseline walking speed scores were able to walk on average 14 meters more in the six minute test after starting testosterone therapy. Those with mobility issues saw distance improvements around 7.6 meters on the test. The men in the study who used testosterone were also two to three times more likely to self-report walking improvement.

    Therefore, recent research suggests that TRT may help improve walking for those with lower testosterone levels. This is important, as walking ability can be an indicator for mobility and physical function. The results of these studies are encouraging for many men living with low testosterone.

    Total Health Solutions at Low T Center

    Our team at the Low T Center is here to help you address your health as a whole. Whether you’re dealing with symptoms of a hormone deficiency or need your annual physical, we are here to help. Our treatment providers take a holistic approach to healthcare, and we are dedicated to helping you find underlying causes of your symptoms. We offer customized treatment plans based on your lifestyle and believe healthcare should be simple, convenient, and affordable. Schedule an appointment today to see how we’re reinventing men’s healthcare.

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    Disclaimer: This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Low T Center. You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.