Sitting in front of a TV for extended periods of time could cut a man’s sperm count in half, according to a new study led by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). The study showed that men who watched more than 20 hours of TV a week had 44% less sperm than those who watched very little TV. Other findings show that men who engaged in at least 15 hours of moderate-to-vigorous physical exercise each week had 73 percent more sperm than men who exercised for just five hours a week.
The study collected data from 189 men between the ages of 18 to 22. Researchers reviewed their diets, physical activity, and the amount of television they watched, and came to the conclusion that watching a large amount of TV takes a serious toll on one’s sperm count.
These findings help shed some light in the still very murky world of infertility.
“We know very little about how lifestyle may impact semen quality and male fertility in general,” says Audrey Gaskins, a doctoral student at HSPH and the lead author of the study. Identifying two actions that men with low sperm counts -- exercising more often and watching less TV -- could have a big impact on overall sperm health.
“The new data in this study is very compelling,” says Dr. John M. Norian of the HRC Fertility Clinic. “This study builds upon our knowledge that men who lead an unhealthy lifestyle (those who are obese, who smoke cigarettes, or who eat large amounts of fat) more often have lower semen parameters.”
SHOULD YOU UNPLUG THE TV?
Men who spent 15 hours or more each week at the gym were said to have healthy sperm -- and more of them. Does that mean you should tell your husband to turn off the TV and pick up his running shoes? Perhaps.
“Exercise is clearly an important parameter for a good sperm concentration,” says Dr. Norian. “Exercise helps the body improve its overall blood flow and also increases the expression of antioxidant enzymes throughout the body.”
Dr. Norian also noted that other studies have shown decreased sperm counts in men who are extreme exercisers, including cyclists and marathoners. He says there is an exercise “sweet spot” most men should aim for that would have them working out at a moderate to vigorous pace a few times each week.
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WHAT CAN YOU DO NOW?