According to new research, it looks as though exercise can make a massive difference to levels of male sex hormone, testosterone. Researchers found that following an aerobic exercise programme for twelve weeks, men who were obese or overweight saw significant rises in their testosterone levels. Those who exercised more energetically saw the most marked improvements. This research was given to a conference in Phoenix, Arizona.
Two Japanese universities had already concluded that a combined programme of healthy diet and exercise would work best for those who were obese and overweight. In this instance, however, it was strictly the effect of regular aerobic exercise alone on the testosterone levels that was studied.
Why do we need to combat low testosterone
Low testosterone levels are responsible for a great number of issues and health problems in men, not least erectile dysfunction and loss of libido, as well as depression. Testosterone deficiency can also cause a decrease in muscle mass and/or bone mass and problems exercising; weight gain including fat around the stomach and potentially gynaecomastia (the development of what are often known as ‘man boobs’); poor energy levels; fatigue and insomnia; even concentration and memory problems.
The new study
The study took 16 men whose weight fell within a typically acceptable range for their height and compared this to 28 men who were over the recommended weight for their height, or who were classified as obese. At the beginning of the study, the overweight group showed much lower testosterone levels than the healthy weight group. All 44 men then undertook a twelve-week aerobic exercise programme. The programme involved brisk walking, or gentle running, for up to one hour a day (a minimum of forty minutes’ exercise), over one to three days every week. The men’s levels of testosterone were measured once more upon completion of the programme.
The overweight groups saw a marked increase in their testosterone levels. Although their levels were still not as high as those of the normal weight group, the results were nonetheless optimistic – and particularly so in those who’d worked harder. The exercise programme made no noteworthy difference to the levels of testosterone in the normal weight group.
What does this mean
Encouragingly, the overweight groups were also able to report a slight reduction in their weight. Hiroshi Kumagai, who lead the study, believes that although this may be one of the reasons for the improved testosterone levels, the most significant influence in increasing the testosterone levels was the exercise – and the more vigorous the exercise, the bigger the difference.