When trying to conceive, you want to ensure that everything is in tip top shape – especially your sperm. While there’s plenty of information available on ways to improve female fertility, the same cannot be said for male fertility. In this article, we’ll offer some tips on the best exercise for optimal reproductive health and why staying fit while trying to conceive matters.

Less TV = Higher Sperm Count

Binge-watching TV shows might not be the best way to spend your time while trying to conceive. A 2015 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that higher moderate-to-vigorous activity and less TV watching were significantly associated with higher total sperm count and sperm concentration.

Some exercise is better than none

If you’re not too keen on exercising, it’s good to know that even a little bit of working out can improve your sperm health. A trial published in the journal Reproduction tracked the sperm health of 280 sedentary men with no known fertility issues. They were split into four groups. The first group remained sedentary while the second group did 30 to 45-minute moderate-intensity treadmill runs three times a week. The third group completed 40- to 60-minute treadmill runs at high intensity three times a week and the last group did three 10- to 15-minute high-intensity interval training sessions a week. All, apart from the sedentary group, had healthier sperm by the end of the trial.

Moderate-Intensity Exercise is Best for Sperm Health

The same trial found that the men with the healthiest sperm were those in the second group who had completed 30-45 minute moderate-intensity treadmill runs three times a week. As Dr. Peter Schlegel, an internationally-recognized expert in the diagnosis and treatment of male infertility, explains, this could be because intense exercise creates body heat and excessive heat isn’t good for the testes. Additionally, “moderate exercise is associated with greater weight loss and improved body fat compared to more intensive or episodic exercise”.

When is too much exercise too much?

Experts recommend staying away from strenuous, intense exercise, including running and biking for long periods of time when trying to conceive. If you already follow a work-out routine, try limiting it to a maximum of one hour a day for added fertility potential.

But, you may be asking:

Why does sperm health matter?  It takes 90 days for your body to make sperm, and there’s evidence that your environment and lifestyle during this time can change the sperm. While the extent of the effect on a future baby is still largely unknown, the findings of a 2013 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that there is in fact a connection between sperm health and the way genes work. As Dr. Kirtly Jones, an obstetrician and gynecologist at University of Utah Health notes, “genes encoded in sperm can be modified by the environment in which they were developing […] and those modifications may affect the developing child”.

So, while overall sperm health is important if you’re trying to conceive, it’s also important for the future health of your baby. The key takeaway here is to keep moving if you already have a routine, to not overdo it, and to complement your exercise with a healthy lifestyle for optimal sperm health. Happy exercising!