Cardio is the most popular type of exercise in the world and for good reasons. It’s easy to understand, doesn’t require any equipment in most cases, and offers a lot of benefits like an improved cardiovascular system & improved mood.
That said, the benefit I’m most interested in today is its ability to boost testosterone production. You’ve probably already heard about resistance training as the best option to increase T levels. But, what about cardio? Let’s find out.
What is cardio
Before we venture any further into its science, let’s first establish what cardio is.
In essence, any aerobic exercise that gets your heart pumping faster and increases your oxygen intake is cardio. Some common examples of this include walking, running, swimming, and cycling.
With that out of the way, here’s what science has to say about the link between cardio exercise and testosterone levels.
Effects of cardio on testosterone
Exercise, in general, increases testosterone production in your system. Studies show that men who work out on a regular basis have higher T levels and improved sperm quality than the ones who do not. This encompasses almost all types of exercise, including cardio.
Another study from 2015 further explored this topic and analyzed the effects of 4 weeks of moderate aerobic training on the T levels of young men. After the test period, most of the participants displayed a significant increase in their free testosterone levels.
I also found a later 2017 study that reached a similar conclusion. It also proved that the impact of cardio on T levels is the same or maybe even more in overweight individuals.
Suffice it to say, doing cardio can boost your testosterone levels by a noticeable margin. But, not everyone will experience the same results, and here’s why.
Factors to consider
There are a few factors that can determine how big of a testosterone boost you might get from doing cardio. The most important of these being:
A younger person experiences a more significant testosterone boost than a man past his 40s, even if they follow the exact same cardio routine. Age matters because testosterone production in men slows down at a rate of 1.6% per year as they get older. This — in turn — reduces the testosterone boost you get from doing cardio, or any exercise for that matter.
Obesity is a major cause of low T in men. So, when an overweight person starts doing cardio, their body fat percentage starts going down as well. This counteracts the negative impact of obesity and restores their testosterone levels back to normal. Though, this extra boost will likely fade away as you get more in shape.
Your exercise intensity
Generally speaking, more intense exercise sessions result in higher testosterone levels. It is also well-documented that High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is one of the most effective methods of boosting testosterone production with exercise.
Luckily, you can apply HIIT methods to your cardio training and get even better results. A good example of this would be a 30-second run followed by a two-minute walk, then back to the running, and so on.
Your exercise timing
Men’s testosterone levels are already highest in the morning and lowest at around 8 pm in the evening. So, doing an evening jog would result in a larger boost than following the same routine early in the morning.
As a blanket statement, it would be safe for me to say that, yes, doing cardio does increase your testosterone levels. But, the reality of the situation is a bit more nuanced.
For starters, the type and intensity of your cardio exercise can have a direct impact on how big of a difference you experience. The same can be said about your age and weight.
All things considered, doing cardio is a fantastic way of staying healthy even as you age, and I’m not just talking about higher testosterone levels.