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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Frank Bruni, "Our Pulchritudinous Priesthood": Growth Hormone and Testosterone

Genetics? Diet? Stress? Exercise? What causes us to age faster or slower than others in our age group?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Our Pulchritudinous Priesthood" (, Frank Bruni tells us that personal trainers have replaced psychologists as must-have accessories and have become "ludicrously apt emblems of, and metaphors for, this particular juncture in America." Bruni writes:

"What therapists were to the more cerebral New York of yesteryear, trainers are to the more superficial here and now: designated agents of self-actualization, florid expressions of self-indulgence, must-have accessories, must-cite authorities.

'My therapist says' is outmoded. 'My trainer says' is omnipresent, at least in the coddled precincts of most cosmopolitan cities coast to coast.

The ranks of trainers metastasize and the adulation for them swells, even as their precise function grows fuzzier — or more variable from trainer to trainer and client to client. Trainers are the new priests. Trainers are the new escorts. They’re paid listeners, paid talkers: friends for hire, who charge by the hour, water not included."

I have never had a personal trainer, and as usual, I am totally unaware of this latest craze. However, I have been lifting weights for almost as long as I can remember (no, I'm not about to tweet my picture as did Geraldo Rivera recently), albeit not always with the same level of motivation. Why? There have been no roles for me in action movies; however, as reported by the NIH in a 1989 abstract entitled "Effects of progressive resistance training on growth hormone and testosterone levels in young and elderly subjects" (

"We observed the response of serum growth hormone (GH) and testosterone (T) to a progressive resistance strength training program. Basal levels (after a 12-h fast) of GH and T were measured in young (23 years) and elderly (63 years) subjects before and after a 12-week training program. The response of GH and T to an acute bout of exercise was also measured. The exercise training, which involved all the major muscle groups, was conducted on Nautilus equipment and required 45-60 min for completion. The subjects completed three sets of lifts with 8-10 Reps/set.

. . . .

In conclusion, the data presented here indicate that strength training can induce growth hormone and testosterone release, regardless of age, but that the elderly response does not equal that of the young."

Hmm, higher levels of growth hormone and testosterone. Sure, I'm much closer to 63 than 23, but why look a gift horse in the mouth?

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