Exercise and Infertility: How Exercise Effects Sperm Quality

sperm-956482_640According to neuroscientist Tim Newman, in his recent article Exercise and Infertility, staying active makes a huge difference for couples trying to conceive.

Newman reports on the findings of a study published in the scientific journal Reproduction. Scientists gathered a total of 261 men aged 25-40 years old. None of the men in the groups exercised more than 3 days a week for 30 minutes. From there, they were split into four experimental groups:

  1. The moderate intensity continuous training group (MICT) – this involved running on a treadmill for 25-30 minutes, 3-4 days a week.
  2. The high intensity continuous training group (HICT) – running on a treadmill for 50 minutes to an hour for 3-4 days a week.
  3. The high intensity interval training group – these men would do short 1 minute bursts of vigorous sprinting on the treadmill followed by 1 minute of recovery, repeated for 10-15 sets.
  4. The control group – no exercise was done.

The participants followed the routine for 24 weeks. Semen samples were taken before, during, and after the exercise period to account for sperm count, motility, morphology, the levels of inflammation, and the response to oxidative stress.

While the exercise group all experienced enhanced sperm quality, it was the MICT group that had the best results, such as 12.4% higher sperm motility, 14.1% more concentrated sperm, and 21.8% more sperm cells. However, Dr. Newman noted that the changes were not long term. “Measure of sperm count, shape, and concentration dipped back toward pre-training levels 1 week after the exercise regimen had ended,” he writes.

One may gather from the information provided in both the study and in Newman’s words that long-term commitment to exercise is one way to improve not only your quality of life but the quality of your reproductive health. After all, low sperm quality accounts for an increased risk of birth defects, miscarriage, and childhood cancer. Meanwhile, if men reduce their intake of alcohol, smoking, and lose some weight by exercising more consistently, quality improves greatly.

Newman concludes that if the results of this specific study can be replicated, then exercise regimens may someday include “sperm-specific training packages.” You can read the full article by Tim Newman at Medical News Today. Alternatively, you can find the complete free article of the study at The Journal of the Society for Reproduction and Fertility.  Follow Tim Newman on Twitter @MNT_Tim.