TV May Be Stunting Your Sperm
If you're a confirmed desk jockey worried about weight gain, science has found something else for you to be concerned about. As it turns out, a person who spent 50 percent of the workday sitting down did more sperm DNA damage than more active men.
Couple a sedentary job with a nightly habit of sitting and watching hours of TV, and you're increasing your risk of damaging sperm quality; even more, a 2016 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found evidence that time spent watching television was associated with lower sperm counts and poorer testicular function.
Moderate to vigorous physical activity has a markedly positive effect on sperm count, while males who spend more than 20 hours a week staring at the tube have a 44 percent lower sperm count than those who watch little or no television, the Harvard School of Public Health found. Taking out the garbage and making your daily trip to the mailbox won't do much good, either, as mild exercise has no effect on sperm quality.
It's no shocker that physical inactivity has some very undesirable effects on your health, and low sperm production is just part of the picture. Whether you're rooted to a computer eight hours a day or just love binge-watching Netflix, you're probably familiar with the effects of chronic inactivity. For example, you might gain weight. Obesity can contribute to type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, heart disease and, yes, low sperm levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that high LDL cholesterol, another consequence of inadequate exercise, impairs semen quality and reduces sperm count.
Thresholds for exercise
Regular exercise makes a big difference, but there is such a thing as too much exercise for a man who's concerned about his reproductive capability. For example, an individual who cycles more than five hours a week may be at risk for reduced sperm concentration and motility. Long-distance runners and resistance trainers should observe similar thresholds by avoiding overtraining to ensure healthy testosterone levels.
Even 30 minutes of exercise three times per week can elevate a man's sperm count; the key is to stick with it, because an on-again, off-again approach won't get you there. Your objective should be to find a healthy balance. Too much exercise or participation in physical team sports can actually work against sperm production. And if you can't wait for another season of "The Walking Dead," space out your viewing because once you surpass the 20-hour-a-week viewing threshold, your fertility likely diminishes.
If finding time to exercise is a problem, get creative about it. There are many ways you can burn a few calories without impinging on your daily routine. Try building a mini-workout into your work commute, such as cycling to the office or jogging to the bus stop. If you're too far away to consider cycling or walking, look for a midway point where you can leave your car and walk the rest of the way. It'll be worthwhile even to get a mile or two of walking in each day. Lunch is an excellent time to go for a walk or close your office door and do some calisthenics. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator (unless your office is on the 75th floor, of course).
Getting your heart rate up for at least a half-hour every day is undoubtedly healthier than two or three hours on the couch with a bag of pork rinds and masked singers for company. Cancel your lawn service and invest in a push mower, run the stairs at home or do several sets of jumping in place for three or four solid minutes (you'll be huffing and sweating in no time). Or if you absolutely can't kick the TV habit, consider a workout that includes wall-sits, pushups or bodyweight squats as you watch.
Find a balance
There's nothing wrong with relaxing while watching a favorite TV program or enjoying a video game now and then, but balance is the key. Offset that downtime by working up a good sweat, and remember, no rule says exercise has to happen in a gym or health club. You can stay in shape and maintain healthy sperm production by doing it your way, in your own time.