Exercise & Sperm Health

Exercise & Sperm Health

Top 3 Reasons To Exercise for Sperm Health

Interestingly, exercise and sperm health do not show a linear curve. Some types of physical activity improve sperm quality, while others may worsen it.

However, many sperm improvement guide include an exercise regimen and encourages men to be physically active. So, the question is: what should you do?

This article will explore the relationship between exercise and sperm health to help to eliminate this confusion.

Why Are Exercise And Sperm Health Inter-linked?

Physical activity has significant effects on your body. When you opt for an active lifestyle, your body undergoes physiological changes, both hormonal and metabolic. These two processes also govern the formation of sperm (spermatogenesis), so their influence is unsurprising.

Exercise also affects your body weight and can help prevents obesity. Increased body fat can reduce sperm count and quality. This may be due to a rise in the temperature of the testes by scrotal fats pad or hormonal changes. Exercise helps you to take charge of your sperm formation and health.

Is Exercise Beneficial For Sperm Health?

Yes, but only if done in moderation. The general idea is that physical activity improves sperm concentration, semen volume, sperm motility, and proportion of spermatozoa with correct structural morphology. Then why is there a special mention of the term “moderation”?

First, you need to know the mechanism of exercise and sperm improvement.

#1 Exercise Increases Testosterone Levels In The Body

Your sperm production happens in the testes, but it needs testosterone hormone. Exercise, especially weight lifting or resistance training, may increase testosterone levels in your body.

Testosterone acts on the germ cells in your testes and pushes them to make sperm. It plays a role in the maturation of sperm cells and their overall quality.

So, exercise may lead to higher testosterone levels. As a result, you may experience a boost in spermatogenesis and sperm quality.

#2 Exercise Enhances Blood Flow And Oxygenates Your Body

Aerobic exercises, like walking, running, etc., promote improve the blood flow and oxygen delivery to your brain, heart, muscles, and other tissues. Also called cardio workouts, they make your heart pump faster and help it get stronger. A healthy heart results in a good blood flow to the penis and testes.

These positive changes in the body may improve sperm production and quality.

#3 Exercise Cuts Down Your Sitting Time

Exercising makes you proactive and helps to limit sedentary time. It is important because some  studies suggest that sitting for long hours may be detrimental to sperm health.

One study looked at men who sat for 4 hours a day and found they had more immobile sperm compared to those who sat for less than 4 hours a day.

This effect may be due to a rise in the temperature of the scrotal area. A sedentary lifestyle also sets a stage for higher body mass index and obesity, which affect male fertility.

Why Moderation In Exercise Is Significant?

It is important not to get carried away with your exercise routine. Balance is the key. Aggressive workouts can reduce sperm health.

Some research suggests that running long distances may affect sperm quality, especially if you run more than 108 kilometers (67 miles) per week for 12 months. So, while moderate running improves sperm parameters and semen volume, an excess may prove detrimental.

Other sports may lead to genital trauma or injuries to the prostate. Repeated minor traumas might not manifest themselves physically, but they have the potential of impairing spermatogenesis or sperm health.

These factors may have minor outcomes, but collectively, they may have an impact on your fertility levels.

Which Exercises Should You Avoid?

A healthy exercise regime is important. But if you are concerned about your fertility, you may want to avoid or cut back on certain activities for a while. Here are some exercise tips:

  • Be careful with cycling. Cycling burns calories and strengthen your legs and your heart. But it also makes you sit on a little seat for extended periods of time, leading to genital overheating. Cycling more than five hours per week has the potential to reduce sperm motility and count.
  • High-intensity training in general may diminish sperm quality. Another option you may want to consider is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). It involves alternating short high intensity bursts with perios of rests. This pattern may improve sperm health.
  • Mountaineering may take a toll on your sperm quality because, at higher altitudes, oxygen levels drop. This may lead to lower sperm counts and decreased motility over time.

References:

  1. Blay, R. M., Pinamang, A. D., Sagoe, A. E., Owusu, E., Koney, N. K., & Arko-Boham, B. (2020). Influence of Lifestyle and Environmental Factors on Semen Quality in Ghanaian Men. International journal of reproductive medicine, 2020, 6908458. doi:10.1155/2020/6908458
  2. Hajizadeh Maleki, B., & Tartibian, B. (2020). High-intensity interval training modulates male factor infertility through anti-inflammatory and antioxidative mechanisms in infertile men: A randomized controlled trial. Cytokine, 125, 154861. doi:10.1016/j.cyto.2019.154861
  3. Jóźków, Paweł, and Marco Rossato. “The Impact of Intense Exercise on Semen Quality.” American journal of men's health vol. 11,3 (2017): 654-662.
  4. Lalinde-Acevedo, Paula C et al. “Physically Active Men Show Better Semen Parameters than Their Sedentary Counterparts.” International journal of fertility & sterility vol. 11,3 (2017): 156-165.
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  6. Arce JC, De Souza MJ. Exercise and male factor infertility. Sports Med. 1993 Mar;15(3):146-69.