Testosterone And The Workplace
Is Your Office Impacting Your Testosterone Levels?
The world has evolved a lot since the days of the hunter gatherer. Back in the day it was literally a case of survival of the fittest, with speed, reactivity and agility reigning supreme. More than that – if you didn’t have them, it was a case of game over.
Fast-forward to 2019 and the landscape looks wildly different, and for the vast majority of people is more comfortable and less physically demanding than that of our predecessors. We’ve swapped the outdoors for the office block and the hunting for the supermarket. And then there are the marvels of technology and the instant access to a stack of services at the mere click of a button.
But what does this shift mean for male health – and testosterone levels? Let’s examine things a bit further.
Let’s Talk Testosterone
Let’s talk straight for a moment – if you want to look and feel your best, you need to make sure your body boasts optimal testosterone levels. High T levels can be the difference between feeling fatigued and raring with energy and feeling lackluster in the bedroom and performing at your best. And of course there’s maintaining lean muscle mass.
But this isn’t a reality for many men, with low testosterone now a problem for many of us. Once T levels hit lower than 300ng.dL, they are officially classed as ‘low’– something that plagues one in four American men.
And the impact of low T levels is all too clear – weight gain, fatigue and lethargy, muscle loss, drops in libido and feeling less healthy are all common side effects experienced by low T sufferers. So as you can see, it’s pretty important.
The Perils Of The Office
The amount of people with jobs demanding physical activity continues to drop as technology advances and more processes become automated. Instead, sedentary roles are becoming increasingly common.
But just because how we work has changed, that’s not to say that things are necessarily easy – people are working longer hours than ever before, doing more mentally demanding jobs, juggling multiple priorities and taking less holiday.
The result? We’re tired, overworked and have little time for ourselves – regardless of the fact that we’re sitting down all day instead of going out into the wild. Instead, we’re sat in the same place, in the same way, day in, day out.
But does this have a part to play in low T levels and poor health? We investigate.
The Stress Factor
First things first – office jobs can be stressful. For many of us coffee breaks no longer exist, lunch breaks are taken at the desk and days are often filled with back to back meetings.
And let’s not mention the inevitable deadlines, emails and the ease of falling behind if we’re sick or take a holiday for just a couple of days. It’s little surprise, then that stress caused by work accounted for almost half of work days lost to illness in 2016.
And this effects testosterone levels, too – when we’re stressed, the body pumps out more cortisol, the body’s ‘stress hormone’. This can be super damaging to muscle tissue, contribute to belly fat build-up, weaken the immune system and increase the chance of both metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.
In fact, research held on NASA office workers found that their cortisol levels didn’t fall as they naturally like they should in the afternoon – they instead stayed elevated. Further research highlighted that office workers tend to have cortisol both when they wake up, as well as throughout the day.
Piling On The Pounds
But that’s not the worst of it. Take little to no physical activity throughout the day, and in the inevitable office snacks and what to you get? Weight gain, that’s what. In fact, a recent study found that daily work-related energy expenditure has shrunk by more than 100 calories.
And then there are the implications of being overweight: it’s really not good news for your testosterone! In fact, many professionals believe that being overweight is the principal factor behind low T for many men. There are two reasons for this: firstly, excess weight decreases the amount of T produced in the testes. Secondly, piling on the pounds can also boost estrogen levels by increasing how much testosterone is converted to estrogen via aromatisation.
Shift Work – Say Goodnight To Testosterone
It’s not unusual for us to work late or start work early in an attempt to keep up and battle the ‘fit-to-burst’ inbox. Where this becomes a problem, however, is when it disrupts our sleep-wake cycles. This is particularly true of shift workers and people working unsociable hours, who can experience serious disruption to their bodily and circadian rhythms that regulates our hormones.
And it’s not just hearsay – there are several studies reinforcing the idea that antisocial work hours can negatively affect out hormones. And that’s not to mention moods, health and overall wellbeing.
Here’s just one example: one particularly study found that when blood tests were taken in night workers between 12am- 8:00am, testosterone count was much lower than baseline measurements. Testosterone levels were also unstable.
One reason behind this could be a deficiency of routine, consistent sleep. Testosterone peaks during deep sleep at around the three hour point, so those experiencing disrupted sleep o simply not enough are likely to have lower T levels – not to mention all the other health issues associated with poor sleep…..