Looking to boost your sperm count? New research suggests you should hit the track.
A study published in the journal Reproduction found that men who took up running and stuck with it had more “healthy swimmers.” Researchers concluded that doing at least half an hour of exercise three times a week could boost men’s sperm count – albeit temporarily; the effects begin to wane within a month if the men stopped their treadmill training.
It should be noted that too much exercise (or even certain kinds of exercise) can harm sperm production, experts press. Previous studies have shown, for example, that participation in competitive sports like cycling can actually lower sperm quality.
In this most recent study, all 261 male participants lived relatively sedentary lives, but were healthy and did not have any fertility problems as far as they knew. They were instructed to follow one of four programs: no exercise; three sessions a week of high intensity interval training (10 one-minute bursts of very fast running with a short recovery period between each bout); three sessions a week of moderate exercise (30 minutes on a treadmill); and three sessions a week of intense exercise (about an hour on a treadmill.)
Researchers found that exercise training boosted sperm quantity and quality, with moderate exercise coming top. Men in all three of the exercise groups lost weight and noted improvements in their sperm test results compared with those who did no exercise over the 24-week experiment.
The researchers believe at least part of the benefits in sperm count may have come from weight loss, a finding supported by past research indicating obesity can lower a man’s fertility.
What remains unclear from the results is whether the exercise boost automatically translates to better fertility, something the researchers plan to explore next.
"Our results show that doing exercise can be a simple, cheap and effective strategy for improving sperm quality in sedentary men,” said lead researcher Behzad Hajizadeh Maleki.
"However, it's important to acknowledge that the reason some men can't have children isn't just based on their sperm count. Male infertility problems can be complex and changing lifestyles might not solve these cases easily."
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