As a physician, I'm constantly asked by patients if there are any natural ways to increase testosterone. My initial response always includes making lifestyle changes such as healthy diet, adequate sleep, and of course, exercise. So many men are interested in increasing their testosterone levels, and one of the best ways to do that is through exercise. In this article, we'll look at the impact of different types of exercises on testosterone levels and the scientific evidence available.
How Exercise Impacts Testosterone
Regular exercise is a proven and natural method of boosting testosterone levels. During exercise, the body releases endorphins, which have a calming effect and reduce stress levels. These endorphins also activate testosterone production within the body. Additionally, exercise promotes better blood flow to muscles, leading to an increase in testosterone production.
Children do not get the same increase in testosterone from a bout of resistance exercise until they reach puberty. After puberty, an increase in testosterone can be seen in boys from resistance exercise, but not in girls. Somewhere between 35 years old and 40 years old is where most men begin to see a reduction in their testosterone levels. Typically, a the decline in testosterone is a much as 1-3% per year. This decline eventually results in the medical condition we know as andropause. The inevitability of declining testosterone levels is one of the reasons exercise is so important.
A meta-analysis published in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation in 2020 assessed whether physical exercise would produce a short term increase in testosterone levels. The researchers found that testosterone levels increased after moderate and high-intensity workouts. However, low-intensity workouts had little to no effects on testosterone levels. The authors concluded that the results were likely to a change in sex-hormone binding globulin, a protein that regulates how much free testosterone is in the bloodstream.
If you're looking to boost your testosterone levels, resistance training tends to be the first thing I recommend. Weightlifting, in particular, is probably one of the most common forms of exercise for the purpose of increasing T levels. This is because when you engage in resistance training, your body naturally produces more testosterone to help repair and build muscle tissue. Current research suggests that resistance training can significantly increase testosterone levels.
Resistance training doesn't just refer to lifting weights. It also includes types of exercise that use body weight, dragging or pulling sleds, or resistance bands. Body weight exercises could include push-ups, pull-ups, squats, planks, and others.
A study published in Mechanisms of Aging and Development in 1989 looked at the impact of resistance training on testosterone levels in men. The study participants did 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions using Nautilus equipment for 45-60 minutes. The authors concluded that "strength training can induce growth hormone and testosterone release, regardless of age".
High-Intensity Interval Training
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is another type of exercise known for enhancing testosterone levels. With HIIT, individuals perform brief bursts of high-intensity exercise alternated with periods of rest or low-intensity exercise. Studies have indicated that this type of workout is capable of increasing testosterone levels in both men and women. Along with resistance training, HIIT is an excellent choice for those seeking to maximize their testosterone production through exercise.
A meta-analysis published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports in 2021 studied the effects of HIIT on testosterone levels. The researchers concluded that HIIT does indeed increase testosterone levels, butt the levels started to decrease within a few hours . It appears that within 24 after HIIT workouts, testosterone levels return to their pre-workout state.
Endurance training, such as running or cycling, as well as plyometric exercises, like jumping or sprinting, are additional types of exercise that could potentially increase testosterone levels. However, the existing research on these methods is not as comprehensive as the research on resistance training and HIIT.
According to a review published in The Physician and Sports Medicine in 2018, too much endurance training can actually have negative effects of testosterone levels. Nonetheless, incorporating at least a little endurance training into your workout routine may still have a positive impact on your overall testosterone production. Just try not to overdo it.
Other Factors of Testosterone Production
It's important to point out that the type of exercise isn't the only factor that affects testosterone levels. As seen from the research, the intensity and duration of the exercise also play a huge role.
In addition to exercise, there are other lifestyle factors that can affect testosterone levels. For example, getting enough sleep and reducing stress can help to increase testosterone production. I frequently stress to my patients that getting 8 hours of sleep is almost essential to maintaining health testosterone levels. Eating a healthy diet that is rich in protein, healthy fats, and micronutrients can also support testosterone production.
In summary, exercise is probably the easiest, effective, and natural way to increase testosterone levels. Resistance training and high-intensity interval training have proven to be the best types of exercise for increasing levels of testosterone. It's important to exercise regularly, and to make sure that you're getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and managing stress to support testosterone production.
While increasing testosterone levels through exercise can have many benefits, it's important to be aware of the potential risks. Talk to a healthcare provider before starting any exercise program or taking any supplements or medications to increase testosterone levels. With the right approach, exercise can be a safe and effective way to support testosterone production and improve overall health and well-being.
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