If you are into fitness and health, you may have heard that running has a wide range of benefits. One of the benefits that have been extensively discussed is centered around men's health and testosterone. Some experts believe that running can support the production of testosterone, while others believe the complete opposite, so I went on a research bender to weed out facts from fiction and to find out if running really increases testosterone levels.
The Effect of Running on Testosterone Levels
Let's dive straight into the science, studies show that high-intensity sprints are much more effective in raising testosterone levels. For instance, one study involved handball players who ran four 250-meter sprints on a treadmill at 80% of their personal maximum speed, with three minutes of rest in between each sprint.
This exercise led to a significant increase in testosterone levels and an improved testosterone-to-cortisol ratio.
These findings suggest that sprinting exercises, which fall under HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), create an anabolic state similar to weight lifting and promote muscle growth.
This muscle growth, in turn, can lead to an increase in testosterone production. I also stumbled on research that showed men who participated in endurance training, like distance running at a steady pace, saw a slight decrease in testosterone levels, opposite of the first study. The conflicting results suggest that the effects of running on testosterone levels may be variable and depend largely on the speed and intensity of the exercise.
Boosting Testosterone With Running
We've touched on evidence that points to a positive correlation between running and testosterone levels, but there are some specifics that we need to know in order to use running as an effective testosterone-boosting tool.
Let's look at how we can do this:
Take the HIIT Approach
As I mentioned a bit earlier, a boost in testosterone levels can only come from high-intensity runs, so 'slow and steady' definitely won't win the race here. Do runs that require 80-100% effort for up to 90 seconds and follow that with a resting phase. Try a combined training program with hard workouts and easy recovery days to promote better levels of the hormone. I run twice to three times a week and I can definitely feel the difference.
Don't Forget to Stride
Post work out strides are a great way to stimulate a rise in testosterone without too much effort. Try to run each stride at 90-100% of max speed. Focus on quick turnover—pretend each footfall lands on hot coals and pump your arms to drive your legs forward into the next step.
We all know that weight training helps boost testosterone levels, so adding some ankle weights to your slow runs can counteract the decrease in testosterone that often follows low-intensity runs. That’s what I personally do, but you can do whatever works for you.
Get Support from your Diet
Ensure you're eating enough calories (protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals) to support your training. Aim to consume at least 200 calories within 30 minutes after a run, and incorporating some testosterone-boosting ingredients into your diet won't hurt either.
Other Benefits of Running
Running can improve overall mental and physical health. After some research, I found it can effectively improve cardiovascular health, strengthening the heart and lungs, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and other chronic conditions. The exercise also improves endurance and strength stamina. This, of course, has a domino effect on overall health by supporting physical initiatives like more intense exercise, which subsequently helps boost testosterone levels.
We all know that running is also a great way to burn calories, which helps maintain a healthy body weight, reducing the risk of obesity and other health issues like Type 2 Diabetes which can lead to Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome (hypogonadism). Overall health and well-being are also positively affected by running as it releases endorphins (feel-good chemicals) which reduce depressive symptoms, stress, anxiety, and overall mood and quality of life.
After looking at different studies that evaluated the effect of running on testosterone levels, I found that positive effects and results highly depend on factors such as:
- running intensity,
- duration, and
I suggest using the ideal running type with a testosterone booster or natural lifestyle approaches that can boost and maintain ideal testosterone levels. This will support long-term benefits and results.