A comprehensive randomized control study that came out earlier this year suggests that engaging in moderate aerobic exercise can significantly increase male fertility rates in previously infertile men. The study was conducted over a 24-week intervention period, with both exercise and non-exercise groups being physically similar in terms of body composition, semen quality, markers of inflammation and oxidative stress.
Throughout the course of the study, measurements were taken against baseline measurements, showing significant improvements in the exercise group in following areas: Increase in Vo2 Max, which measures aerobic capacity, an increase in semen quality and decrease in sperm DNA damage, decreased markers of oxidative stress, and decreased pro-inflammatory markers. Furthermore, during and post intervention, there were more total pregnancies and live births in the exercise group than in the control group, which reported 0% live births.
As the exercise subjects became more aerobically active, they experienced decreased body weight and body fat during the intervention. The decrease in oxidative stress is attributed to an increase in exercise-induced antioxidant enzymes. It was also reported that discontinuing exercise four weeks after the intervention period was not a long enough period have a significant adverse effect on fertility and pregnancy outcomes.
The take-away for men and couples hoping to increase their fertility, is that even a little goes a long way. Try to incorporate moderate physical activity into your lifestyle, 3-4 days/week, for at least 25 minutes per bout. Examples of moderate physical activity include:
Mowing the lawn
Light bicycling (10-12 miles/hour)
Kayaking in calm water
By Rima Sidhu, MS