We know that exercise does a lot for our bodies, but does running increase testosterone?
It’s almost never a simple answer when we’re talking about hormones.
Does Running Increase Testosterone? Exercise Releases a Lot of Hormones
Exercise, including running, does so many positive things for our bodies.
It controls our weight and improves how we feel, mostly due to the release of a variety of hormones.
The thyroid produces T3 and T4, hormones which control the burning of fat and glycogen for energy.
Epinephrine, usually called adrenaline, is produced in the adrenal glands and released during exercise. This stimulates the fight-or-flight response, raising our energy levels and increasing performance.
People can train longer and more intensely when adrenaline is introduced into the system.
Cortisol is another hormone released in response to stress. Produced by the adrenal glands, cortisol is known for burning anything and everything for energy — fat, carbs, and even lean muscle.
This is not always a good thing, as burning lean muscle to fuel performance is not usually desirable.
Testosterone is produced in men’s testes and in women’s ovaries. Research tells us that increases in testosterone occur with high-intensity exercise, such as weightlifting or strength training. Testosterone contributes to the development of lean muscle mass while reducing fat.
So, Does Running Increase Testosterone?
When the duration is kept short and intensity is high (think windsprints), the answer is yes, somewhat.
That being said, it’s not a large increase — heavy weightlifting or strength training is much more effective at raising testosterone levels, and even the gains you get from these activities are fairly small.
If you are just at the edge of having low testosterone, it’s possible lifting weights will push you into normal territory, but it’s also possible this won’t be enough.
So, what about long-distance running — does running increase testosterone levels then?
You might expect running long distances (especially if it results in extreme fatigue) would produce similar results to lifting weights — a full-marathon measuring 26.2 miles is pretty intense, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Increased Testosterone and Running Aren’t Always a Match
Long-distance running is unlikely to raise your testosterone levels: Our bodies seem to adapt to meet the challenges and stresses we put them through.
If you’re going to run long distances of over 10 miles, do you want a lot of heavy muscle mass and dense bone weighing you down?
No, of course not — that would make you slower and take more energy.
But those increases in muscle and bone density are the characteristic traits of men and women with robust levels of testosterone.
This study found that endurance training as a cyclist or triathlete (a multi-event sport which includes distance running) did not result in an increase in testosterone levels, but T levels did increase for swimmers, probably because swimming is a higher-intensity activity requiring more muscle power.
As it turns out, long-distance running may actually decrease your testosterone levels.
Does Running Increase Testosterone? A Surprising Fact
The scientific literature indicates the opposite of what we’d expect — as it turns out, testosterone levels decrease and estrogen is created as running time and mileage increase.
This release of estrogen would benefit a distance runner by keeping muscle mass low, while the other hormones, such as T3 and cortisol, burn fat, glycogen, and even muscle tissue in extreme cases.
This hormone balance helps produce the lean body needed by distance runners and cyclists — a physique resembling a greyhound or a whippet.
So, does running increase testosterone? The answers is no, not if it’s more than intense sprinting.
Does Running Increase Testosterone? The Short Answer Is “No”
So, does running increase testosterone?
The truth is, running simply isn’t your best choice.
Running provides so many benefits for our bodies, especially in the area of weight loss or weight management — not to mention the fact that it can improve our mood and overall feelings of wellness.
But, if you are specifically looking to increase testosterone, there are better exercise choices, such as strength training, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), or weightlifting.
You can find some specific ideas for better testosterone-boosting exercises and activities here.
Distance running or jogging shouldn’t affect testosterone levels all that much, but they do have a variety of other outstanding benefits — it all depends on you, your body, and your needs.
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Find out if TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy) might be the right choice to get you feeling like yourself again.