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Does Watching Sports Boost Testosterone?

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We all know that by participating in physical activity – be it weight training, interval training or playing sport – you can increase T levels. This leads to increases in muscle mass and strength, as well as improvements in body composition. It is the golden chalice hormone when it comes to carving out a great physique.

Watching your favorite sports team can be exciting, annoying, frustrating and elating all in equal measures – but can it affect your testosterone levels?

It’s an interesting question, and in this article, you’ll learn all about if being an observer may be just as effective as being a player. This is what we’re covering:

  • The link between T and sports
  • The science – does watching it increase T levels?
  • Summary
  • What else increases T levels?

The link between testosterone levels and watching sport

When athletes play they often find that T levels increase prior to, during and after the game. For example, a study by Booth et al [1] measured both T levels in 6 university-level tennis players across 6 matches during a competitive season.

They found that T increased just before a game, and afterwards rose for winners relative to losers. Additionally, winners with increasing T had higher levels prior to their next match, in contrast to losers with falling T, who had lower levels before their next match.

Okay. But do the fans have similar hormonal changes?

This area of research was first proposed by a Professor of sociology in New York called Dr. Theodore Kemper [2] who was interested in the effects of ‘vicarious‘ hormonal changes when watching a game.

He proposed that by watching your team play competitive sport, you may get similar increases in T levels as those who are taking part.

Being part of a team is an important aspect of life for many men – we like to share in the glory of winning, but also take losses personally – it can have a big effect on our mood. We like to discuss our team with our friends, but also poke fun at friends if their team lose – particularly if they are local rivals.

We also like to feel part of the team too – we refer to our local team as ‘we’ and ‘our’ as opposed to ‘them’. There is a certain amount of union and community between us and our favorite team – we even build affiliations with individual players.

…and the role of testosterone?

As an androgen – a group of steroid hormones secreted by the testes – T is associated with dominant behavior, especially aggression and high social dominance [3] – all traits seen in the fandom of supporting your team.

It would make sense that there will be some hormonal response based around whether we win or lose.

let’s have a look at what the science says:


Watching-Sport-and-Testosterone

Key Point: Many men see being a fan of their team as a community experience – this builds affiliations with individual players, the team identity and other fans.


The science – does watching sport increase testosterone?

There are a few interesting studies on the link between T-levels and watching the game – and also how the result of the game might affect it too. Here are the best of those studies:

#Study 1: Van der Meij [4]

This study was conducted during the 2010 FIFA World Cup Soccer, and analysed the T responses of 50 Spanish fans in their game against the Netherlands. Fans watched the match with friends or family in a public place or at home.

Results showed that T levels were higher when watching the match than on a control day – there was an obvious change in biochemistry that started just with the anticipation of competition.

Unsurprisingly, there was also an increase in cortisol– the body’s stress hormone – as well. Interestingly, cortisol levels were higher in those that said they were a stronger fan of soccer. Presumable because the result ‘meant more’ to them.

The study concluded that hormone levels of watchers increased to prepare their organism to defend or enhance their social status.

#Study 2: Bernhardt [5]

In a similar study published in the journal Physiology and behavior, Bernhardt and colleagues set up two different experiments:

  • Experiment 1: 8 male fans attending a basketball game between traditional college rivals
  • Experiment 2: 21 soccer fans watching a televised World Cup soccer game between traditional international rivals

In both experiments, volunteers had their T levels measured prior to the game. Results showed that in both studies, by watching sport, mean testosterone level increased in the fans of winning teams by around 20% and decreased by the same amount in the fans of losing teams.

Interestingly, the increases in T levels were not anticipatory, and instead were quite sudden – mostly as the game was so close until the end.

“Basking in reflected glory, in which individuals increase their self-esteem by identifying with successful others, is usually regarded as a cognitive process that can affect behavior. It may also involve physiological processes, including changes in the production of endocrine hormones” [5].


Sport-and-Testosterone

Key Point: Research says that T levels increase when watching your team play sport… but if they lose, they might well decrease.


Summary – does watching sport increase testosterone?

Participating in sport increases T prior to, during and after competition. It appears to increase more in winners than in losers, and these increases are transferable to the next event with levels higher the following pre-game.

As an androgen, T is responsible for dominant behavior traits – especially aggression and high social dominance. For this reason, theories exist suggesting that just by watching your team you can create a similar hormonal response that that of the participating athletes.

There are only a small number of studies that have investigated the link between T-levels and supporting your team, but those that have been published demonstrate hormonal changes similar to that of the players – interestingly with T increasing for a win, and decreasing for a loss.

There are a number of factors that are likely to affect your T response to watching the game – these include your own personality, your affiliation with the team and any social interaction with opposing fans.

One thing is for certain though – if you intend to watch sport just to boost your T levels you’d better choose a team that wins!


What else increases your T levels?

When it comes to improving hormone levels safely and effectively you need to go for ingredients that are proven to work.

TestoFuel contains only ingredients that have been shown to work in the most rigorous studies. Including active ingredients such as oyster extract and magnesium this is the best product you can choose.

This supplement has the ability to support:

  • Muscle Growth and Strength – get bigger and stronger, faster
  • Improved Recovery – hit the gym time and time again
  • Enhanced Energy – you’ll be able to train longer and harder to maximize results

TestoFuel is ideal for improving your performance both in and out of the gym, and helping you attain that all-important muscular physique.


References

  1. Booth, A et al. Testosterone, and winning and losing in human competition. Horm Behav. 1989; 23(4): 556-71
  2. Kemper, T. Social Structure and Testosterone: Explorations in the Socio-Bio-Social Chain. 1990. New Brunswick NJ: Rutgers University Press.
  3. Eisenegger, C et al. The role of testosterone in social interaction. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 2011; 15(6)
  4. van der Meij, L et al. Testosterone and cortisol release among Spanish soccer fans watching the 2010 World Cup final. PLoS One. 2012;7 (4): e34814
  5. Bernhardt, PC et al. Testosterone changes during vicarious experiences of winning and losing among fans at sporting events. Physiol Behav. 1998; 65(1): 59-62.

 


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