Wheels of fire

Exercise is generally a healthy thing to do and we are all encouraged to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. It does seem however that one form of exercise may not be the thing to do if you are a man and you are wanting to conceive.

Cycling, or bike riding if you are little less intense about it, is a great form of exercise. If nothing else it gives you the opportunity to wear headgear and lower body garments that would be enough to get you arrested on any number of charges if you were not astride a two wheeled conveyance. New research however, suggests that sperm may not overly enjoy the cycling experience.

Previously it has been suggested that competitive athletes might have problems with sperm health. To test the effect of exercise on sperm researchers interviewed more than 2200 men who provided semen samples to fertility clinics. The men answered questions about their general health and physical activity. Their answers were then matched to the health of their sperm.

Using statistical methods the researchers removed influences like body weight, blood pressure, choice of underwear, taking multivitamins and more. When they looked specifically at exercise they found that exercise in general did not impact sperm health. However, there was an exception: cycling.

Men who did not exercise regularly had low sperm counts in 23 per cent of cases. Cyclists who rode for more than five hours per week however, had a 31 per cent rate of low sperm counts. Additionally, almost 40 per cent of cyclists had low sperm motility (movement) compared to only 27 per cent among men who did not exercise.

The researchers caution that it is too early to say definitively that cycling causes sperm problems. It might be for instance, that since all of these men were attending fertility clinics that they are not representative of the general population. However, this study does sit with other research suggesting that cycling can lead to poor semen quality.

Given all of the caveats regarding extending these findings to the general population it may be wise for men who want to conceive to put away the lycra for a little while. On the other hand, if you want the pleasure of trying without conceiving gentlemen, then get pedalling.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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