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TV Viewing Linked to Lower Sperm Count

By Nicky Broyd
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Rob Hicks, MD

Feb. 5, 2013 -- Healthy young men who watch TV for more than 20 hours a week have almost half the sperm count of men who watch very little television. But men who do 15 or more hours of moderate to vigorous exercise every week have sperm counts that are 73% higher than those who exercise for less than five hours a week, according to a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Allan Pacey, PhD, British Fertility Society chairman and senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield, says the findings fit with what fertility experts already know.

"We know that men who wear too tight underwear have poorer sperm. So it’s not a million miles away from sitting on the sofa ... for too long and heating up your testicles for too long. It’s the same mechanism I would suspect."

And the findings about helping sperm quality with exercise also fit. "Men who are out on the golf course are not only getting cardiovascular benefits from doing even light exercise, but there are also some metabolic benefits as well.”

Inactive Lifestyle

Semen quality appears to have deteriorated in most Western countries over the past few decades for reasons that are not clear. The study authors set out to find if an increasingly inactive lifestyle might play a role.

They analyzed the semen quality of 189 American men, all from New York state, between the ages of 18 to 22 in 2009-10.

The men were asked about the quantity and intensity of weekly exercise over the preceding three months and how much time they spent watching television, DVDs, or videos over the same period.

They were also asked about factors that might affect sperm quality, including medical or reproductive health problems, diet, stress levels, and smoking.

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