Exercise—Not a Treatment for Clinical Low Testosterone
Muscle mass and strength are important as men age.
One of the primary factors in determining the body’s ability to maintain muscle mass is a healthy testosterone level—responsible for initiating a number critical bodily systems that must be functioning properly to slow or resist a premature physical decline:
- Production of lean muscle mass
- Development and maintenance of bone tissue
- Regulation and distribution of body fat
- Generation of energy sufficient for exercise
Considering that many men entering their late fifties or sixties may have been dealing with unsuspected chronic hypogonadism (the clinical term for low testosterone) and its associated poor muscle regeneration for years, the risk of developing premature frailty and overall poor health is considerable.
Although avoidable if properly diagnosed and treated, this situation is too often mistaken for the normal aging process.
Looking to Diet and Exercise for Answers
The medical community has been seeking non-pharmaceutical solutions, such as diet or exercise, that could effectively arrest the decline of testosterone levels into symptomatic territory, or even reverse levels that are already chronically low.
One theory is that supplementary testosterone helped individuals preserve or even gain muscle mass, which is the effect appropriately prescribed exercise is intended to achieve. Therefore, would the addition of exercise into mens’ routines also boost testosterone levels and increase overall health at the same time?
Does Research Show That Exercise Boosts Testosterone Production?
Although the potential for exercise training to increase testosterone is generally accepted, the actual effect of exercise on testosterone levels and overall hormone balance is not well understood. The drawing of definitive conclusions has been complicated by poor research methods, differing measurements for monitoring testosterone levels, differing exercise modalities, and the like.
In an attempt to form a big-picture consensus of what the research says, a group of scientists conducted meta-analyses on changes to testosterone levels in older males following physical training.
22 studies (9 randomized controlled trials and 13 uncontrolled trials) that contained a physical training component and observed participants who were 60 years of age or older were included.
Although researchers expected to see significant increases in testosterone levels over time associated with resistance exercise, those effects weren’t observed in older males.
On the other hand, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and endurance training showed greater potential for increasing testosterone in older men.
Still, the magnitude of the effect is small.
Further research is needed, but, without disparaging the benefits of exercise in any way, it must be concluded that exercise alone would be insufficient to overcome chronic low testosterone.
Benefits of Exercise Do Not Equal a Treatment for Low Testosterone
If you’re on the borderline of low testosterone, and you find yourself dipping into systematic territory from time to time, it’s entirely understandable for you to be searching for a non-medical solution to how you feel.
The small gains in testosterone production related to exercise that medical research observes might be sufficient to keep you above the line separating normal from abnormal testosterone levels, though it’s difficult to say for sure, because each and every person’s body is different.
Regardless, you should exercise for the overall health benefits it provides.
However, if you are suffering from chronic symptoms of clinical hypogonadism, a better diet and workout program aren’t going to provide a solution.
You need to be speaking with your medical provider about medical interventions for this actual medical problem.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT), not exercise, is the most effective treatment for low testosterone. For answers to the most common questions regarding the benefits of TRT without the marketing spin, we recommend our comprehensive guide. Learn what TRT is, and what TRT isn’t. Get the facts.