The association between guideline-based exercise thresholds and low testosterone among men in the United States

Richard J. Fantus, Cecilia Chang, Marah C. Hehemann, Nelson E. Bennett, Robert E. Brannigan, Brian T. Helfand, Joshua A. Halpern*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Exercise and weight loss have been shown to improve serum testosterone (T) in obese individuals. However, the association between low T levels and guideline-based exercise thresholds has not been determined. Objective: Using the recently updated Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee (PAGAC) recommendations, we sought to investigate the relationship between recommended activity levels and the prevalence of low T levels. Materials and Methods: The2011-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) was used to identify men ages 18 to 80 years who answered the physical activity questionnaire and underwent serum T testing. Men were categorized based on PAGAC activity level: less than recommended, recommended and greater than recommended. Multivariable logistic regressions were used to determine the association between low T (<300 ng/dL) and activity level across body mass index (BMI) categories while adjusting for potential confounders. Results: Of the 7372 men who met the inclusion criteria, the majority (4372, 59.3%) exceeded the recommended amount of activity, whereas only 2326 (31.6%) exercised less than the recommended amount. On multivariable analysis, obese men whose activity exceeded the recommended amount were less likely to have low T (OR 0.523, 95% CI 0.409-0.669, P <.001) compared with men who did not meet the recommended activity level. Discussion and Conclusions: Using a large, nationally representative cohort, we demonstrated that obese men whose activity exceeded PAGAC recommendations had a decreased likelihood of having low T levels. Given the numerous benefits of exercise, these data provide a basis for counseling obese patients regarding the association between exercise and decreased prevalence of low T.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1712-1719
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • exercise
  • hypogonadism
  • metabolic equivalents
  • testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Reproductive Medicine


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