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Could Yoga Boost Your Testosterone Levels?

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When you think about ways to boost your T levels you might think of heavy weight training or intense interval training. The relaxed flow of Yoga probably isn’t the first method to spring to mind. Instead you might think of it as a sport for the older gym goer, the gentle thirty something who doesn’t like to break a sweat, or the injured athlete who’s just trying to keep mobile.

But with as many as 35 million people practicing Yoga each year, it’s one of the most popular physical activities in the US.

Could you be missing out on vital androgenic enhancement by skipping your stretching? Could Yoga be the answer to your testosterone needs?

In this article we find out.


What is Yoga?

Yoga is an ancient philosophy; a system of principles that dates back thousands of years.

Derived from the word ‘union’, this Indian physical activity references the body, soul and consciousnesses through movement and flow.

The main aim of Yoga is to improve flexibility and breathing through strengthening activities known as ‘postures’. These pre-determined poses and movement patterns are held for a minimum of three to five breaths, but some more challenging positions could be held for up to two to five minutes by the elite practitioner.

It is one of the most popular physical activities in the US, with over 35 million people practicing it each year. The problem is though that out of those people, less than 20% are men. 

That means that you could be missing out big time on the specific benefits that this activity provides.



The Benefits of Yoga

The bottom line is that Yoga should form part of everyone’s weekly physical activity program.

Should it replace your strength training or cardio program? No. But according to review studies, it appears to be equal or superior to exercise in nearly every outcome, except those involving physical fitness [1].

The only markers of health and wellness it won’t boost more than traditional exercise are those related to endurance performance – tolerance at high maximum heart rate for example.

In both healthy and diseased populations, Yoga may be as effective as or better than exercise at improving a variety of health-related outcome measures

A typical workout session could last anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes. It’s not a fantastic fat burner but still contributes 250 calories to your daily energy expenditure [2]. For those that have limited fitness it is a great place to start improving activity levels, and for those who train hard it is a good way to relax and recover.

The focus is on relaxation during a Yoga workout so it helps you relieve the stress of the working week and improves all aspects of good movement – respiration, flexibility and muscular endurance for example. The static nature of the postures help to build balance and co-ordination, as well as muscle tone.

It is also a great way to rehabilitate muscles and joints after an injury.



Key Point: Yoga uses challenging postures to improve strength, flexibility and balance. Unlike other activities, it has a strong focus on relaxation and breathing.


How Does Yoga Effect Testosterone Levels?

Chronic stress – a testosterone killer

One of the fastest growing epidemics of modern life is stress. Worrying about paying your mortgage, your demanding boss or your failing relationship can all add up to long-term anxiety and stress.

And when you’re stressed for long periods your adrenal glands begin to pump out large amounts of the stress hormone cortisol.

Whilst this hormone is useful in the short term (it helps to tap into stored energy so that you can use it), in large amounts it can suppress testosterone production.

Although there’s limited research available, the studies that have assessed the effects of Yoga on testosterone are promising.

A Russian study, published in 2004, found that Yoga reduced cortisol levels by 11% and testosterone by a respectable 16% [3].

Taking part in Yoga on a regular basis helps to reduce stress and begin to slow down cortisol production. And of course that means more testosterone is free to do its job.

Yoga acts as a mind-body complimentary medicine that improves male health and reproduction.

Lose Weight with Yoga to ramp up your T levels

Being overweight can seriously affect your testosterone levels and obesity during reproductive age is a major contributing factor in fertility issues. There is also a causal relationship between being overweight and cortisol levels, particularly the accumulation of belly fat.

According to one large review study [4], Yoga is an excellent physical activity for improving sperm quality and prostate health.

It does so by helping you to burn calories, improve lean mass levels and switching on important fat burning hormones such as adiponectin [5]. This hormonal shift helps you regulate your blood sugar much more effectively, and that can lead to a drop in belly fat.

Another study, published in 2014, looked at how useful Yoga is in improving body weight when compared to walking [6].

68 participants were arranged into one of two treatment groups:

  • Group 1: 90 minutes walking each day
  • Group 2: 90 minutes Yoga each day

The results reported that the activity favorably influenced multiple health outcomes in overweight individuals. Both groups saw a significant difference in weight loss, waist circumference and fat mass.

The Yoga group however, were the only intervention to see an increase in leptin levels. As a hormone that regulates appetite this was an important finding. When leptin levels rise, you feel fuller – great for those wanting to hit a calorie deficit and regulate their body weight.


Key Point: Yoga can boost testosterone by reducing cortisol levels and improving body composition.


Summary

Yoga isn’t the most physically challenging activity but with its focus on posture, flexibility and breathing it can benefit you in a number of ways.

Research shows that it can strength and tone muscles, improve co-ordination and help with weight loss. It’s aim is to promote relaxation and that in turn helps to reduce circulating cortisol levels. And that means much more available testosterone production.

There’s no need to replace your strength program with Yoga, but adding in short, regular sessions will definitely help to restore balance to your hormones.

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References

  1. Ross, A et al. The Health Benefits of Yoga and Exercise: A Review of Comparison Studies. J Alt Compl Med. 2010; 16(1): 3-12
  2. Pollock ML, Gaesser GA, Butcher JD, et al. The recommended quality and quantity of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, and flexibility in healthy adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998; 30: 975-991
  3. Minveleev, RS et al. Postural effects on the hormone level in healthy subjects. Communication I. The cobra posture and steroid hormones. Fiziol Cheloveka. 2004; 30(4): 88-92
  4. Sengupta, P et al. Male reproductive health and Yoga. Int J Yoga. 2013; 6(2): 87-95
  5. Lee, JA et al. Effects of yoga exercise on serum adiponectin and metabolic syndrome factors in obese postmenopausal women. Menopause 2012; 19:296-301
  6. Telles, S et al. A comparative controlled trial comparing the effects of yoga and walking for overweight and obese adults. Med Sci Monit. 2014; 20: 894-904

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