Here's another great reason for guys to get off that couch and hit the gym—especially any guy who wants to have a baby! According to a new study from researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, men who lead sedentary lifestyles—the dreaded combo of computing, commuting, and couch-potato-ing—have lower sperm counts compared to men who are physically active.
How much lower? Harvard researchers analyzed the semen quality of 189 healthy men between the ages of 18 to 22. Guys were asked about their physical activity and TV-watching habits, in addition to health issues that may affect sperm quality, such as diet, stress levels, and smoking. All things considered, men who watched more than 20 hours of TV weekly had a 44 percent lower sperm count than those who watched almost no TV. What's more, men who exercised for 15 or more hours weekly at a moderate to vigorous rate had a 73 percent higher sperm count than guys who exercised less—or not at all.
Researchers hope couples trying to conceive put this new information to good use. "We know very little about how lifestyle may impact semen quality and male fertility in general, so identifying two potentially modifiable factors [exercise and time spent watching TV] .... is truly exciting," says lead author Audrey Gaskins, a doctoral student at HSPH, via a study press release.
Will this motivate your guy to get moving? If it's been a while since he's exercised, it's a good idea to check in with a doctor before ramping up physical activity levels. Better yet, have him make a preconception check up to make sure all systems are go as you try to get pregnant.
And what can you do to help? Amy Lewis, 34, an aspiring mom-to-be from Houston, Texas says this new study makes her think she's finally found the perfect gym buddy. "I am working hard to lose 20 extra pounds that have been with me for years," she says. "I have to admit, it's nice to know that being in tip-top condition when you're trying to get pregnant isn't just a 'woman thing.'"
And as for her partner, Matt, who Lewis says logs quite a bit of time in front of the flat-screen?
"I called my gym and upgraded my membership from the single to family plan. No more excuses! I just texted him that he has spinning class at 6 pm."