Does Running Lower Testosterone?

Many athletes and fitness enthusiasts wonder whether running can have a negative impact on their testosterone levels. Testosterone plays a crucial role in various functions such as muscle growth, energy levels, and sexual performance. While this hormone is commonly associated with overall strength and well-being, its relationship with running or other endurance sports has been a subject of debate.

Some studies suggest that distance running may cause a slight decrease in testosterone levels. However, it is generally not enough to cause significant health problems or negatively impact athletic performance. Prolonged exercise can lead to increases in cortisol, which might be responsible for small decreases in testosterone observed in some athletes. On the other hand, moderate exercise is known to improve overall health and maintain hormonal balance, which could be beneficial for men looking to maintain or improve their testosterone levels.

Testosterone and Running: An Overview

Understanding Testosterone

Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and plays a crucial role in maintaining muscle mass, bone density, and regulating mental health. In men, the testosterone levels typically peak in adolescence and early adulthood, and then gradually decrease as they age. However, it is important to note that individual testosterone levels can vary widely depending on factors such as genetics, lifestyle choices, and overall health.

The Role of Running and Exercise

Running and other forms of exercise can have both positive and negative effects on testosterone levels. On one hand, regular exercise has been shown to improve overall health and well-being, which in turn could have a positive impact on testosterone levels. For instance, exercise helps in reducing body fat, which can contribute to higher testosterone levels as excess fat can negatively impact hormone production.

However, long-duration, intense activities like distance running can potentially lead to a temporary decrease in testosterone levels due to factors such as increased cortisol production and physical stress. Prolonged exercise can increase cortisol levels and result in a decrease in testosterone. The decrease in testosterone caused by excessive running is usually not large enough to create significant health problems or negatively affect performance.

It’s worth mentioning that the relationship between running and testosterone levels is complex and depends on various factors like training intensity, duration, and individual differences in response to exercise.

To summarize, running and exercise can impact testosterone levels in different ways, depending on the type and intensity of the activity. While moderate exercise can contribute to improved overall health and potentially higher testosterone levels, excessive running may lead to a temporary reduction in testosterone. This underscores the importance of finding the right balance of exercise for overall health and well-being.

Effects of Running on Testosterone

Benefits of Running for Testosterone Levels

Running, as a form of regular aerobic exercise, can have positive effects on testosterone levels by improving the body’s overall health and fitness. It enhances energy, boosts metabolism, and helps in stress reduction, which can consequently improve testosterone production. Research has shown that incorporating moderate levels of endurance training into workouts can lead to increased testosterone levels when combined with adequate rest and recovery periods Philathletics.

Furthermore, running has been associated with a range of health benefits that indirectly support healthy testosterone levels. These include:

  • Improved cardiovascular fitness
  • Reduced body fat
  • Enhanced bone strength
  • Increased muscle mass
  • Better glucose control and insulin sensitivity

Potential Drawbacks of Overtraining

While moderate running can help maintain healthy testosterone levels, it is essential to be aware of potential drawbacks associated with overtraining and excessive endurance exercises. Engaging in long-duration running sessions can lead to increased cortisol production, a stress hormone that may negatively impact testosterone levels Live Science.

Cortisol and testosterone have a seesaw-like relationship – when cortisol levels rise, testosterone levels tend to drop, which could harm an individual’s muscle mass, libido, workout recovery, and overall energy levels Men’s Health.

In summary, the relationship between running and testosterone levels is multifaceted. Running can provide numerous benefits for testosterone production when practiced in moderation. However, overtraining and excessively long endurance workouts may have adverse effects on testosterone levels due to cortisol’s influence. To maximize the benefits of running for testosterone levels, individuals should aim to strike a balance between endurance training and recovery time, while also focusing on other aspects of a healthy lifestyle that can support optimal hormone balance.

Factors Influencing Testosterone Levels and Running

Age and Testosterone Levels

Testosterone levels naturally decline as men age. After age 40, circulating testosterone levels drop by about 1.6% per year for most men. This decrease in testosterone levels can affect various aspects of a man’s life, including hair growth, sperm production, and bone density. While running does not have a direct impact on age-related testosterone decline, it can play a role in promoting overall physical and mental health.

Intensity and Duration of Workouts

The relationship between running and testosterone levels depends on the intensity and duration of workouts. Prolonged endurance training, such as distance running or marathon training, can lead to slight decreases in testosterone levels. This decrease is often accompanied by increased cortisol levels, which can cause a temporary imbalance in the testosterone-to-cortisol ratio 1(

However, these slight reductions in testosterone levels are generally not significant enough to cause health problems or performance decreases 2( It’s essential for runners to understand the potential impact of various factors on their testosterone levels, including body fat, estrogen levels, and injuries.

To optimize testosterone levels, runners should consider incorporating a mix of high-intensity and low-intensity exercises into their training regimen. High-intensity exercises, such as sprinting or weightlifting, have been shown to increase testosterone levels, while low-intensity exercises, such as jogging, can help maintain hormone balance and minimize the risk of injuries.

It is crucial for athletes to monitor their workouts’ intensity and duration and adjust their training programs as needed to optimize their testosterone levels and overall health. By considering factors such as age, intensity, and workout duration, runners can better understand their testosterone levels and make informed decisions in their training programs.



Balancing Running and Testosterone

Incorporating Resistance Training

While distance running might cause a slight decrease in testosterone levels, it is usually not enough to cause health problems or a performance decrease. It is important to maintain a balance between endurance exercise and resistance training to keep testosterone levels within a healthy range. Resistance training, such as weightlifting, can help boost testosterone production and counteract the potential negative effects of an excessive focus on endurance exercise, like distance running.

To maintain a balance and optimize testosterone levels, individuals should aim to incorporate weightlifting or other resistance exercises into their fitness routine at least 2-3 times per week. This can help negate the negative impact of cortisol, a stress hormone that may be increased in endurance runners, on testosterone levels. It’s important to consult with doctors or healthcare professionals before changing one’s workout routine to ensure it suits the individual’s needs and goals.

Optimizing Recovery Time

Recovery time plays a crucial role in managing testosterone levels, especially for runners. Giving the body adequate time to rest and recover following a workout is essential for maintaining hormonal balance. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to lower testosterone levels, so ensuring runners prioritize sleep and rest will contribute to better hormone regulation.

In addition to regular sleep, optimizing recovery includes taking active rest days and ensuring the body has the necessary nutrients to support recovery. Consuming a diet rich in various nutrients, including magnesium, can also be beneficial for testosterone production. A magnesium deficiency has been associated with low testosterone

To address the risk of hypogonadism, runners should consider:

  • Scheduling regular rest days
  • Getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night
  • Consuming a balanced diet enriched with essential nutrients like magnesium, zinc, and healthy fats
  • Practicing stress management techniques to reduce cortisol levels
  • Listening to their bodies and making adjustments when necessary

By incorporating resistance training and optimizing recovery time, runners can successfully balance endurance exercise and testosterone health, ensuring optimal performance and overall well-being.

Additional Factors to Consider

While the focus is on whether running lowers or kills testosterone levels, it’s important to examine other contributing factors as well. In this section, we will discuss the role of testosterone therapy and supplements, and the impact of diet and nutrition on maintaining healthy testosterone levels.

Testosterone Therapy and Supplements

For those who experience low testosterone levels, testosterone therapy may be an option to consider. This treatment typically involves the use of synthetic testosterone in the form of injections, gels, patches, or pellets. It’s essential to consult a healthcare professional before undergoing testosterone therapy, as it can have side effects, and is not suitable for everyone.

Supplements marketed to boost testosterone levels are widely available. However, their effectiveness remains a topic of debate. Some supplements containing ingredients like fenugreek, D-aspartic acid, and zinc claim to improve testosterone levels, but more research is needed to support these claims. Always consult a healthcare professional before using such supplements.

Role of Diet and Nutrition

A well-balanced diet plays an essential role in maintaining healthy testosterone levels. Important nutrients for testosterone production include:

  • Zinc: Found in foods like oysters, red meat, poultry, and beans
  • Vitamin D: Obtained from sun exposure, fatty fish, and fortified dairy products
  • Healthy fats: Include omega-3 and monounsaturated fats found in fish, nuts, seeds, and avocados

Aside from including these nutrients, it’s crucial to maintain a healthy caloric intake to prevent obesity, which can cause low testosterone. Avoid consuming excessive refined sugars, trans fats, and processed foods, as they can negatively impact testosterone levels and overall health.

Additionally, proper stress management, quality sleep, and regular exercise, such as running or other endurance sports, contribute to maintaining healthy testosterone levels. While some studies suggest that distance running may cause a slight decrease in testosterone, the effects are rarely significant enough to impact health or performance.

In conclusion, consider various factors when evaluating the impact of running on testosterone levels, including testosterone therapy, supplements, and diet and nutrition. Maintaining a balanced lifestyle is key to supporting optimal testosterone levels and overall health.


Running, as a form of physical activity, can have varying impacts on testosterone depending on factors like intensity, duration, and a person’s overall fitness level. While some studies indicate a slight decrease in testosterone levels among endurance athletes, this decrease is generally not significant enough to cause health problems or compromise athletic performance.

In fact, regular aerobic exercise such as running can contribute to overall wellness, including improved muscle health, bone health, and reduced obesity. Many elite athletes who engage in endurance exercise may experience low testosterone concentrations, yet this is often linked to higher cortisol levels in the blood from working out instead of the physical activity itself.

In terms of recovery ability and the potential inflammatory response from running, moderation and listening to one’s body is important. This ensures that the benefits of running outweigh any potential negatives on testosterone levels or muscle tissue.

Furthermore, factors such as sleep quality and overall health play a crucial role in maintaining optimal testosterone levels. It is essential to consult a urologist or healthcare professional if one experiences symptoms related to low testosterone, such as loss of strength, decreased morning erections, or changes in mood.

To summarize, running does not inherently lower or kill testosterone, especially when considering its positive impact on fitness and overall wellness. As long as the exercise is balanced with appropriate recovery and attention to overall health, running can continue to be a valuable component of a holistic approach to maintaining optimal testosterone levels and overall well-being.

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