Does Running Increase Testosterone?

Does running increase testosterone?

The answer: it depends.

See, there are different types of running – each one offers different results.

Do you like going for a jog around the neighborhood? Or maybe you prefer sprints?

Depending on which type of running you do most often, you’ll either experience a decrease or increase in your T levels.

To answer your question: Yes, running does increase testosterone levels. But this only applies to sprints. [6, 7, 8]

Long-distance running doesn’t offer the same benefits. It, in fact, lowers your testosterone levels and is catabolic (muscle-wasting). [9]

Just look at the pictures of sprinters and marathon runners. Which one has higher T levels? It’s sprinters, of course.

In this article, I’ll dig deep into the science behind sprints and marathons. And explain how each one affects your hormones and muscle mass.

Effects of Running on Health and Testosterone

Running every day is not a bad idea. It, in fact, offers plenty of benefits.

Looking at studies, we can see that running just 5-10 minutes per day helps reduce the risk of strokes, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular problems. [1]

Just 5 minutes of daily running is also shown to improve mood, and reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. [2, 3, 4, 5]

And yes, according to studies, running increases your testosterone too. [24]

Further Reading: Men’s Health Enhancers Guide

Is More Better?

So, does running more than 10 minutes per day bring more benefits? It might, but only up to a certain point.

Let me explain what I mean…

See, research suggests that benefits from running stop at around 4.5 hours of running per week.

In fact, if you run more than this and you aren’t an elite athlete, you might get overtraining symptoms. [9]

That’s correct – by running too much and too often, you’re putting your body at risk. Not only does this increase the risk of injuries, but your muscles become weaker too.

This happens because when you run, or do any strenuous physical exercise for that matter, you’re putting your body under a stressed state.  Normally, this isn’t a problem.

But when you train too much and too often, that’s when your body can’t catch up anymore. This is where stress leads to muscle loss.

When you’re stressed, your body produces extra cortisol, which is a muscle-wasting hormone. Not only that, but cortisol also suppresses your T levels. [9]

How Much Should You Run?

The amount of running hours you should put in every week depends on several factors.

First off, it depends on your level of fitness.

Are you an athlete? Or someone who just likes to train here and there? Or maybe you don’t train at all?

Secondly, which type of running do you prefer?

If you like long distance running, then you can do more than 4.5 hours of light running per week.

If you’re a sprinting type, then training no more than once or twice per week is enough to give you a punch in testosterone and growth hormone levels (I’ll explain how sprints boost your anabolic hormones in a second).

 

Running for just 5-15 minutes per day improves your testosterone, mood, and heart health. However, you don’t want to run too often. Constant hard training leads to muscle wastage and can also wreck your T levels. Have no more than 1-3 sprinting sessions, or 4.5 hours of light running a week.


Types of Running

As I’ve said before, there’s a short distance and long distance running.

Short distance runs tend to be more intense. For example, sprints really ramp up your metabolism and cause you to burn fat faster.

Sprints also boost your human growth hormone levels. I’m talking a 771 percent increase in HGH – as shown in some studies. [10]

But the list of benefits doesn’t end here. Sprints also cause a huge spike in your testosterone release, which will lead to bigger and stronger muscles. [6]

On the other hand, long-distance running is more of a cardiovascular exercise. It improves stamina, heart health, and makes your bone marrow younger. [11]

However, long-distance running tends to produce chronic stress in your body. This is a prolonged type of stress, where your body doesn’t have a lot of time to rest. [12, 13]

During periods of chronic stress, you’ll produce excess cortisol, which is muscle wasting and damaging to testosterone.

You see, cortisol and T work in a seesaw manner. When one hormone goes up, the other one crashes down.

Sprinting (Short-Distance Running)

These days, not many people have time for a long run or training session. [14, 15]

If that sounds like you, you might want to try HIIT.

You see, HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training, and it’s a form of exercise that involves short bursts of intense physical activity followed by rest periods.

HIIT workouts only last for 15-20 minutes. And they give you the same, possibly even better benefits than regular exercise. This makes them extremely time-efficient. [16, 17]

Sprints are one of the most effective HIIT exercises. They not only burn a bunch of calories but also keep your metabolism firing for hours after exercise.

And if you thought that was cool, check this out: Sprints are shown to dramatically raise anabolic hormone secretion – including testosterone and HGH (human growth hormone). [6, 18, 19]

In some studies, Human Growth Hormone secretion was boosted by 771% after a short burst of intense exercise.

Human Growth Hormone is vital for keeping you young and strong.

After you hit 30, it starts reducing drastically, even more than testosterone. This makes it important to do exercises such as sprints to keep HGH elevated. [20]

a graph showing a decline of human growth hormone levels as we age

            Image courtesy of: American HGH Clinics

Other benefits of sprints include:
  • Boosts Brain Function – Sprints cause a release in BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor), which stimulates the growth of new brain cells. Not only that, but BDNF also protects your brain from oxidative stress and free radical damage.
  • Saves Time – Research conducted by Journal of Applied Physiology found that just 15 minutes of sprinting results in same endurance benefits as 9-12 hours of regular exercise.
  • Makes You Harder to Kill – Sprinting might be fun, but it’s not easy. These short bursts of intense activity require a huge amount of willpower and mental strength. The more you do them, the tougher you become both mentally, and physically.

Marathons (Long-Distance Running)

Long distance running might not be beneficial for your testosterone, but it has its place in terms of boosting overall health.

See, when you run for long distances, you’ll have higher levels of stamina. Your heart health will also improve.

However, there’s a fine balance between running just enough, and running too much.

See, long-distance runners have higher levels of cortisol during marathons. [12, 13]

Some studies show that this cortisol stays elevated long after they’d finished a marathon. It doesn’t take us a doctor to know that this isn’t good.

Cortisol is a stress hormone, and normally, it serves to wake us up in the morning and get us going.

However, when you’re in a constant state of cortisol influx, that’s when things go south.

You start to feel stressed, your muscles become flat, your libido gets weak – and your testosterone levels plummet down. [21, 22, 23]

That said, if boosting testosterone is not your top priority, here are the benefits you’ll get from running long distances[1]:

  • Improved Stamina – You’ll be able to run for longer without getting out of breath. Your stamina levels will be higher than sprinters.
  • Enhanced Mood – Ever heard of runner’s high? It’s a euphoric and elated feeling you get after running for long distances.
  • Reduced Risk of Cancer and Heart Diseases – Going for a morning jog will improve your cardiovascular health, and make your resistant to diseases such as a stroke, heart attack, and even cancer.
  • Improved Cognition & Sleep – After you’re done with an exhaustive long run, you’ll not only sleep better but your brain function will be improved too. Long distance running is also shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

You Might Also Like: Men’s Testosterone Guide

Which Type of Running Boosts Your Testosterone The Most?

Read this carefully; Short distance running such as sprints are the most effective way of boosting your T levels.

Sprints also raise your HGH levels, which are responsible for making you look young, strong, and lean.

On the other hand, long-distance running is not friendly to your male hormone.

Running for too long causes your body to produce extra cortisol, which negatively impacts your T levels.


Key point: For raising testosterone and HGH, sprinting is the most effective type of running. For boosting stamina and mood, long-distance running is a better option.



How Testosterone is Produced During Sprints

One thing is clear; sprints come out on top every time when it comes to boosting testosterone.

But how is testosterone produced during sprints? And in what amounts?

Well, first and foremost, the response to this question varies a lot, depending on the individual.

It’s near-impossible to give a generalized answer to the question, but we can have a look at how the brain works and how it influences the production of testosterone.

That’s correct, the pituitary gland in your brain is responsible for signaling your testes to produce testosterone. This happens during sprints or other types of vigorous exercise. This is your body’s response to stress.

After getting the signal from the brain, the testes then use their own Leydig cells to produce the male hormone. This results in increased blood TT levels.

Now, this is just a rough overview of how testosterone production during sprints works.

Let’s now break down the science behind this process to see it in more detail.

The Science

Here we have two studies which have tested the effects of sprints on testosterone levels.

Study 1 – Raised Androgen Hormones After Sprints

This study tested the effects of a sprint training program which was done over a 6-month period.

The researchers measured concentrations of androgen hormones in the blood of healthy young males, including their plasma total testosterone.

Androgen hormone concentrations were measured at rest, after a warm-up, right after 6-second sprint intervals, and post-workout (5 and 20 minutes).

During the initial stages of warm-up, there were no changes in total testosterone levels. The same happened during sprints – no significant increase in testosterone.

But then, when the test subjects finished sprinting, their testosterone levels shot up significantly. What’s more, these men displayed high plasma TT concentration even 20 minutes after the workout, during the recovery phase. [6]

The study concluded;

“These results suggest that sprint training increases plasma TT concentrations in response to sprint exercise. Plasma A and plasma La concentrations increases in response to sprint exercise could be involved in this elevation of plasma TT concentrations.”  – NCBI

What this study tells us, is that testosterone isn’t produced before and during the sprints, but right after.

Once the brain recognizes that the physical stress reduces, it signals the testes and Leydig cells to start producing more of the male hormone.

Onto the next study.

Study 2 – Dihydrotestosterone and Testosterone Elevation After Sprints

Researchers in this study wanted to test the effects of repeated sprints on circulating DHT and TT levels. They chose 14 healthy young men to participate in the study.

These men did several bouts of repeated sprint exercise. The researchers took their blood to measure their anabolic hormones pre- and post- workout.

It turned out, that all of these men had significantly raised total testosterone, free testosterone, and DHT right after exercise. [7]

Not only that, but this elevation stayed for 1 hour after workout. This shows that even after the sprints are done, anabolic hormones stay high.

Citing the study;

“Five minutes after exercise, there were significant elevations in total testosterone (TT; P < 0.001), free testosterone (FT; P < 0.001), and DHT (P = 0.004), which returned to baseline after 1 h. Changes in DHT with exercise (5 min postexercise – pre-exercise) correlated significantly with changes in TT (r = 0.870; P < 0.001) and FT (r = 0.914; P < 0.001). Sprinting cadence correlated with changes in FT (r = 0.697; P = 0.006), DHT (r = 0.625; P = 0.017), and TT (r = 0.603; P = 0.022), and habitual training volume correlated with the change in TT (r = 0.569, P = 0.034).” – NCBI

The researchers concluded that sprints increase both total T levels and DHT, along with other androgen hormones. The biggest changes occur right after exercise, and last for up to an hour.

However, let me emphasize again that a lot of these results depend on an individual. For some, these elevations might last over 1 hour. For others, less than that.

One fact remains true though, and that is: sprints cause your body to produce more testosterone after exercise, making them one of the best ways of naturally raising the male hormone.

Other Methods of Raising Testosterone

Here we’ll cover only the safest and most effective methods of raising your male hormone. I won’t be talking about synthetic testosterone, which actually does your body more harm than good.

Okay, so what are these methods of naturally raising your T?

Glad you asked! Here they are;

Squats

You heard it right; sprints aren’t the only exercise that will boost up your HGH and T levels. In fact, squats stand shoulder to shoulder with sprints in terms of their benefits on anabolic hormones.

It’s shown that squats significantly raise testosterone and human growth hormone, along with promoting fat loss via faster metabolism. [25]

However, you have to do squats right to reap the biggest benefits. Slow and controlled reps win the race here.

Specifically, you want your eccentric (negative) part of the squat to last minimum 3 seconds. And then shoot up explosively.

This means you should squat down slowly, and move back up explosively. This, according to Brazilian scientists, is what will make your anabolic hormones go wild – spiking up the growth hormone by up to 1700%. [26]

Sleep

It comes as no surprise that sleep plays a big part in how you’ll look and feel.

But did you know that sleep is also vital for keeping your testosterone levels high?

That’s correct; too little sleep is shown to drastically reduce T levels.

In fact, just one week of sub-optimal sleep reduces circulating testosterone in the blood by 15%. And this number rises higher the more hours you go without sleep. [27]

The problem with this is, when your testosterone levels drop, estrogen goes up. And since estrogen is a female sex hormone, it will make you attain certain characteristics of a woman. Such as ‘man boobs’.

So unless you want this to happen, ensure you get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every day.

Diet

Just by looking at your daily nutrition, you could tell how well your testosterone is doing.

A diet rich in sugars, refined carbs, and processed meats is shown to reduce testosterone levels. Not only that, but this kind of diet also raises estrogen in males, causing them to turn into a woman in a way – promoting mood changes and man breasts (gynecomastia). [28, 29, 30, 31]

Instead, what you want to do is throw the sugars away, and start eating foods rich in protein, good fats, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

Specifically, if you’re looking to have your T levels high, eat foods rich in zinc, magnesium, and B vitamins. These include oysters, beef, and nuts & seeds. [32, 33]

Natural Supplements

There are a number of herbs and nutrients you can take to improve your testosterone levels.

I’m going to mention only a few of them here, but if you wish to see a full list, check my in-depth article here; Men’s Health Enhancers Guide

Okay, so here are some of the safest and most effective testosterone enhancers for men;

  • Ashwagandha – it’s known as one of nature’s most powerful anti-stress agents. Ashwagandha reduces cortisol by up to 35%. This has numerous health applications, from helping you lose fat (cortisol does the opposite; it makes you gain fat) to increasing your testosterone level via reduced stress. Not only that, but ashwagandha also directly boosts the male hormone by signaling the testes to get into action. [34, 35, 36, 37]
  • Vitamin D – It’s called the sunshine vitamin because our skin makes it when under direct exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is essential for survival, and it affects countless processes in the body. From the immune system to testosterone production. A lack of vitamin D is shown to cause low testosterone levels, weak immunity, and poor recovery. [38]
  • D-Aspartic Acid – there’s good news, and bad news when it comes to D-Aspartic Acid. Let’s start with the good news first… D-AA is shown to significantly boost testosterone levels in men with hypogonadism (clinically low T) and those who are inactive. The bad news is: D-AA doesn’t offer these benefits to men who already have optimal testosterone levels. [39, 40]
  • Fenugreek– Fenugreek is shown to lower inflammation, improve hormonal balance (read: raise testosterone and reduce estrogen in men), and increase muscle mass. It’s a potent libido booster, too. [41, 42]
  • Asian Ginseng – Korean Red Ginseng, AKA Asian Ginseng, raises testosterone levels by improving blood flow to the testicles, decreasing blood sugar, and having a direct effect on Leydig cells which produce the hormone testosterone. [43, 44, 45]

Key point: Keeping your T levels high comes down to sleeping 7-9 hours per day, having a clean diet, doing squats, and consuming specific herbs and nutrients.


Conclusion

Running is one of the most effective ways to boost your health as a man.

There are two main types of running – sprints and marathons. Also known as short distance and long distance running.

If you’re looking to maximize your testosterone levels, then sprints are for you.

Research shows that short and intense bursts of running cause a huge release in testosterone and human growth hormone.

Unlike sprints, long-distance running will not boost your T-levels.

It will, in fact, negatively impact your male hormone, since long runs raise your cortisol production. When cortisol levels get high, testosterone crashes down.

However, if maximizing T levels is not your biggest priority, then long distance running might offer you some powerful benefits. Including improved mood and cognition, higher stamina levels, and reduced risk of a heart disease.

Other ways of raising your testosterone naturally include;

  • Getting enough sleep (7-9 hours per day)
  • Eating a clean diet (cut back on refined carbs and sugars, consume zinc and magnesium foods)
  • Squats (they help boost your T and HGH by up to 1700%)
  • Natural Herbs and Nutrients (Ashwagandha, Vitamin D, Fenugreek, D-Aspartic Acid, Asian Ginseng…)

Next up: A Look At Men’s Health Enhancers

References for the article: Does running increase testosterone?

[1] Running as a Key Lifestyle Medicine for Longevity. (source)

[2] Physical Exercise For Parkinson’s Disease: Clinical And Experimental Evidence. (source)

[3] Late running is not too late against Alzheimer's pathology. (source)

[4] Qualitative and quantitative effects of running on mood. (source)

[5] Effects of a 12-week running programme in youth and adults with complex mood disorders. (source)

[6] Androgen responses to sprint exercise in young men. (source)

[7] Dihydrotestosterone is elevated following sprint exercise in healthy young men. (source)

[8] Growth hormone responses to treadmill sprinting in sprint- and endurance-trained athletes. (source)

[9] Chronic Low Testosterone Levels in Endurance Trained Men: The Exercise- Hypogonadal Male Condition. (source)

[10] The time course of the human growth hormone response to a 6 s and a 30 s cycle ergometer sprint. (source)

[11] Specific Modulation of Vertebral Marrow Adipose Tissue by Physical Activity. (source)

[12] Relationships between Training Load, Salivary Cortisol Responses and Performance during Season Training in Middle and Long Distance Runners. (source)

[13] A randomized cross-over study of the acute effects of running 5 km on glucose, insulin, metabolic rate, cortisol and Troponin T. (source)

[14] The role of perceived personal barriers to engagement in leisure-time physical activity. (source)

[15] American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. The recommended quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, and flexibility in healthy adults. (source)

[16] Is high-intensity interval training a time-efficient exercise strategy to improve health and fitness? (source)

[17] High-Intensity Interval Training for Maximizing Health Outcomes. (source)

[18] Impact of acute exercise intensity on pulsatile growth hormone release in men. (source)

[19] Effect of low and high-intensity exercise on circulating growth hormone in men. (source)

[20] Growth hormone in the aging male. (source)

[21] Central effects of stress hormones in health and disease: understanding the protective and damaging effects of stress and stress mediators. (source)

[22] The impact of stress on body function: A review. (source)

[23] Relationship Between Circulating Cortisol and Testosterone: Influence of Physical Exercise. (source)
[24] The effect of a brief sprint interval exercise on growth factors and inflammatory mediators. (source)
[25] Effects of progressive resistance training on growth hormone and testosterone levels in young and elderly subjects. (source)

[26] Acute effects of movement velocity on blood lactate and growth hormone responses after eccentric bench press exercise in resistance-trained men. (source)

[27] Effect of 1 week of sleep restriction on testosterone levels in young healthy men. (source)

[28] Hormonal changes in normal men under marginally negative energy balance. (source)

[29] Testosterone concentrations in young pubertal and post-pubertal obese males. (source)

[30] Adolescent gynecomastia is associated with a high incidence of obesity, dysglycemia, and family background of diabetes mellitus. (source)

[31] Sugar-sweetened beverage intake and serum testosterone levels in adult males 20–39 years old in the United States. (source)

[32] Effects of magnesium supplementation on testosterone levels of athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and after exhaustion. (source)

[33] Zinc status and serum testosterone levels of healthy adults. (source)

[34] Withania somnifera Improves Semen Quality in Stress-Related Male Fertility. (source)

[35] Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. (source)

[36] Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With Ashwagandha Root Extract. (source)

[37] A Standardized Withania Somnifera Extract Significantly Reduces Stress-Related Parameters in Chronically Stressed Humans: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. (source)

[38] Benefits and requirements of vitamin D for optimal health: a review. (source)

[39] D-Aspartate, a Key Element for the Improvement of Sperm Quality. (source)

[40] D-aspartic acid supplementation combined with 28 days of heavy resistance training has no effect on body composition, muscle strength, and serum hormones associated with the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis in resistance-trained men. (source)

[41] Physiological aspects of male libido enhanced by standardized Trigonella foenum-graecum extract and mineral formulation. (source)

[42] Effects of a purported aromatase and 5α-reductase inhibitor on hormone profiles in college-age men. (source)

[43] A Double-Blind Crossover Study Evaluating the Efficacy of Korean Red Ginseng in Patients With Erectile Dysfunction: A Preliminary Report. (source)

[44] Ginseng Helps Regulate Blood Glucose. (source)

[45] Effects of Panax Ginseng C.A. Meyer saponins on male fertility. (source)

Testosterone Guides and Articles

At MaleTestosteroneBooster, it’s our aim to help you get the most out of your life by helping you boost your testosterone levels. We all know what it’s like to feel suboptimal in the bedroom, the gym, and in everyday life when your confidence is lacking. This is why I’ve put together the below guides to help you reach your goals! Why not check them out, you may find just what you’re looking for.

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