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Study: 20 Hours of TV a Week Almost Halves Sperm Count

Yet another reason to hit the gym: If you want to keep it up—your sperm count, that is—trade couch time for exercise time, say researchers.

Sperm quality has been dropping over the past few decades in Western countries, but the solution to this sexual dilemma may be mostly painless. All you need to do is get more physical exercise and stop watching so much television (we did say mostly painless), according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health.

In a brand new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine today, researchers looked at the television and exercise habits of 189 men between 18 and 22 years old. Here’s what they found:

  • Men who watched more than 20 hours of television, videos or DVDs a week had a 44 percent lower sperm count than men who watched almost none.
  • Men who exercised 15 or more hours a week (moderate to vigorous) had a 73 percent higher sperm count than men who did less than 5 hours a week.

The researchers note that, while a reduced sperm count has been linked to lower fertility, those men may still be able to have children.

In addition to the sperm count differences, the researchers found that men in the study who exercised more also tended to eat better. And those who watched more television filled up on red and processed meats, junk food and high-fat dairy foods. Other research has already shown the importance of diet—such as eating more omega-3 fatty acids—in keeping sperm happy and healthy.

This study was small, but it reinforces an important take-home message—physical exercise is good and too much screen time is bad. Whether you change your habits for your heart or your tiny swimmers, that’s your deal. The bottom line is, just make it happen.

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