A team of research scientists from UC Santa Barbara recently found that chopping wood can cause a statistically significant increase in male testosterone levels, even more so than competitive activities.
The study, Age-independent increases in male salivary testosterone during horticultural activity among Tsimane forager-farmers was trying to determine if non-competitive athletic activities related to survival would increase testosterone more than sports normally played for fun, like soccer.
Shockingly, the results showed a 46.8 percent increase in testosterone levels following the wood cutting, 17% higher than the testosterone spike caused by playing soccer.
“For Tsimane men in Bolivia, environment plays a bigger role in hormone behavior because they have a lifestyle that requires them to cultivate their own food. The spikes in testosterone levels enhance muscle performance, which improves their ability to cut trees and get food for their families.” – MedicalDaily
The studies author, Ben Trumble explained,
If you’re a 50-year-old Tsimane man, for example, you probably have six or more children, and you need to be able to feed them. If you lose the ability to have the acute spikes in testosterone that increase your ability to chop trees chop longer and chop harder that would be detrimental to feeding your family.
A user from reddit was skeptical and had some interesting comments,
Endocrinology is complicated. Never draw any conclusions from things that “increase your testosterone” without understanding a whole lot more.
In non-hypogonadal men, serum testosterone fluctuates all over the place throughout the day based on a zillion different factors, usually peaking soon after waking and sometimes tanking to near-undetectable levels in the afternoon. Measuring a “46.8% increase” is meaningless without AUC information, as transient spikes can be really transient.
Then add to that that response curves to T are in no way linear. “Normal” range is enormous, and differing levels within that range (and even significantly above) are often nearly or completely unnoticeable to the patient. When you hear about people taking steroids: assuming they’re even using testosterone (it’s pretty weak relative to other options), they’re injecting several times the 95th percentile reference level. Even a consistent 50% increase in normal range would change very little.
Another implication of this is that every “testosterone boosting” product you see advertised is total bullshit. If you’re low on testosterone, the only real solutions are to correct the hypogonadism (e.g. thyroid function, if disordered) or do total replacement therapy.