Most people refer to it as the “middle-age spread,” but medical researchers call this condition the somatopause (sa-mot-a-pause).
Many middle-aged adults are just hearing about this term and have sent questions asking what he or she should look for. Symptoms of the somatopause are weight-gain, especially around the middle; loss of bone density; and declining energy and sex drive, as well as an increase in bad cholesterol, decrease in good cholesterol, and the skin begins to wrinkle.
Millions of dollars are spent by middle-age adults on healthcare, medicine, plastic surgery, health food, and gym memberships attempting to reverse the impact of the somatopause. In this respect, somatopause is a real bummer.
While the somatopause slowly creeps up on you as you age, there are two proven cures: 1) growth hormone injections that can cost as much or more than $1000 per month and 2) exercise.
One can readily see the dramatic difference in cost, especially since the latter, a specific recommended type of exercise, does not even require a gym membership, it’s free.
There is a specific type of exercise that makes the body release a particular hormone that reverses the somatopause. These exercises are targeted at releasing the body’s anti-middle-aging hormone and doesn’t take a lot of time. These exercises are anaerobic and are therefore of short duration. These exercises are sprinting and other forms of a short-burst, get-you-out-of-breath exercises. This shortness of breath will generally occur in only a few seconds.
Researchers show that the somatopause is related directly to the decline of growth hormone (a natural substance produced by the body) during aging. In fact, biomedical research shows that increasing growth hormone can produce an average response of a 14 percent loss in body fat and an 8 percent gain in muscle. This is very significant since we lose muscle due to sarcopenia as we age. Researchers also report improvements in skin, bone density, and cholesterol.
It’s widely reported that several well-known actors take growth hormone injections for its anti-aging, youth rejuvenating properties. And growth hormone injections have been banned for athletes because of their ability to improve performance. Growth hormone is given to children with clinical stature growth problems to help them grow normally. However, growth hormone therapy does not make adults grow taller, but does reverse several measurable clinical factors of the somatopause.
Other than exercise and sprinting type exercises, some inexpensive nutritional supplements, and adequate deep sleep, will do the job naturally. Other exercises to perform include high-intensity cycling , interval running, swimming, interval biking, and almost any anaerobic exercise that you can do for 20 seconds as fast as you can, get out of breath, recover after about 30 seconds and repeat the process. Perform these exercises for 2-3 times per week for about 20 minutes of total exercise time, do not count recovery time. Thus, total workout time will be about 40-45 minuts. These exercises are explained in detail in our “Training” section.
Most people want to feel good, lose weight, and restore their energy and appearance to youthful levels, as well as desiring a lean, muscular, sprinter’s physique. You’ll be happy to know that even at age 50 and above, that’s what increasing growth hormone naturally can do if you follow the right type of fitness program.
On a more scientific note, what happens to cause the somatopause? The more you know about it, the better off you’ll be. First, we’ll look at the specific hormone in the body (lack thereof) that is responsible.
Somatotropin, the human growth hormone, is secreted by the pituitary gland under the influence of growth hormone releasing hormone. This secretion falls with age from 500 ug at 20 years to 200 ug at 40 years, and 25ug at 80 years with a concomitant fall of IGF-I (Insulin Like Growth Factor I or Somatomedin C), levels from 240 ng/ml at 30 years, 200 ng/ml at 40 years, and 40 ng/ml at 80 years. IGF -1 is the main effector of growth hormone activity.
IGF-I or Somatomedin C is the major member of a family of proteins synthesized by the liver in response to growth hormone stimulus. It circulates in the peripheral blood bound on a tertiary complex with IGFBP-3 and acid labile subunit (ALS). In this form Somatomedin C (IGF-1) cannot leave circulation. An increase in the ratio of Somatomedin C (IGF-1) to either IGFBP-3 or ALS has been reported to increase the bioavailability of the Insulin Like Growth Factors. However, this would only be true if the total Somatomedin C (IGF-1) and IGF-II exceeded the binding capacity of IGFBP-3. This has yet to be demonstrated. The measurement of IGFB-3 clinically has yet to be proved of value in either diagnosing or monitoring therapy of growth hormone deficiency.
The increasing incidence of Somatomedin C (IGF-1) reduction with age, results in a clinical hyposomatotropin deficiency syndrome. The symptoms are: sagging cheeks, deep and large wrinkles, thinned hair, lips, jaw bones and skin, pseudogynecomastia, an obese floppy belly, general muscle loss, fatigue, somnolence, lack of self assurance and esteem, anxiety, and low sociability. The laboratory changes seen in this syndrome include: a decrease in Somatomedin C (IGF-1) level below youthful levels, an increase in cholesterol levels with altered lipoproteins, low thyroid hormone levels, high fibrinogen, and an increase in osteocalcin levels. These changes are often accompanied by an increase in atherosclerosis and an increase in cardiovascular mortality.
The measurement of random human growth hormone in serum is of very little diagnostic value because levels change dramatically in response to various stimuli. Dynamic tests of pituitary function such as the Arginine infusion test or insulin hypoglycemia both with measurements of growth hormone levels are valuable but not practical in an outpatient environment. Therefore, the measurement of Somatomedin C (IGF-1) is the best indicator of adult growth hormone deficiency in the outpatient setting, and the test of choice to monitor growth hormone therapy.
The diagnosis of adult human growth hormone deficiency should be considered in every adult patient who presents with suggestive symptoms. The diagnosis should be confirmed by measurement of Somatomedin C (IGF-1).
The FDA has now approved the use of synthetic or recombinant human growth hormone for the treatment of Adult Onset Growth Hormone Deficiency, as well as: dwarfism due to growth hormone deficiency, Turner’s syndrome and wasting due to AIDS.
However, fighting this problem with exercise is should be your first challenge. If you are not able to perform such exercises as described you should consult your physician regarding growth hormone injections. Also, is you attempt any of the described type exercises, please consult your doctor first because they are fairly intense and taxing on the body.