What keeps men younger - exercise or testosterone

Exercise is more effective than testosterone treatment in improving men’s fitness, strength, and body composition, according to a new study from the University of Western Australia.

The results, published in the American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology, apply to men with mild testosterone deficiency who may consider testosterone supplementation as a restorative hormone to reverse the physical effects of aging.

“Men benefit far more often from 12 weeks of exercise than from testosterone treatment.”

PhD student Lauren Chasland

The UWA School of Human Sciences team studied the effects of testosterone and exercise in 80 healthy middle-to-elderly men with low to normal testosterone levels and measured their fitness, body composition, and strength before and after a 12-week supervised workout exercise program.

The men were randomized to receive either testosterone therapy, testosterone therapy with supervised exercise, placebo and supervised exercise, or just a placebo.

The group that exercised had better overall results in terms of fat mass and fitness compared to those who received the testosterone treatment.

The results also showed that adding a testosterone treatment to exercise training did not add any additional benefit over exercise alone in the 12-week study.

Lead author, PhD student Lauren Chasland, said the results overall indicated that exercise provides a powerful incentive to reverse some of the harmful effects of aging.

“Men are far more likely to benefit from 12 weeks of exercise than testosterone treatment in terms of fitness, body composition, and strength,” said Ms. Chasland.

While exercise was the most beneficial, testosterone treatment had a similar impact as exercise on gaining lean mass, the body weight with no fat, especially in the arms and legs.

Ms. Chasland said the results suggest that men who are unable to exercise could benefit from testosterone treatment to improve their lean body mass.

“For men who are unable to exercise due to illness or disability, testosterone treatment alone could be beneficial to maintain or improve lean mass, although more studies are needed to confirm this,” said Mrs. Chasland.