man running

What kind of exercise intensity is good for sperm quality?

It is usually women who takes action on all advice relating to fertility and conception; however, men need to prepare too during the critical months leading up to conception.

Statistics show that around one in 20 men have low numbers of sperm causing fertility issues and approximately one in every 100 men has no sperm at all.

About 20 per cent of couples face problems with fertility and around 30 per cent of the problems originate in the male partner. A man’s fertility generally relies on the quality and quantity of his sperm. For new life to begin, around 20 million sperm per millilitre need to be available and strong enough to swim up to the female egg for conception to take place. If sperm count is low or if the sperm is of poor quality, it becomes difficult for couples to conceive.

Statistics show that around one in 20 men have low numbers of sperm, causing fertility issues, and approximately one in every 100 men has no sperm at all.

To optimise their fertility, men are usually advised to eat healthy, reduce alcohol intake, to quit smoking and to exercise regularly. But there is a lot of contradictory evidence on how much to exercise and its impact on the quality of sperm. So what kind of exercise intensity is good for sperm quality?

A group of researchers from the Uremia University in Iran recently investigated the effects of a range of exercise intensity on sperm quality, based on various quality markers. They put 280 randomly selected male volunteers to the test and assigned them into four groups:

  1. Moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) – walking or jogging on a treadmill for 25-30 minutes/day, 3 days per week increasing to 4-6 days per week
  2. High-intensity continuous training (HICT) – running on a treadmill for 40-60 minutes, 3 days per week
  3. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) – 1 minute of treadmill sprinting followed by 1 minute of recovery, repeated 10-15 times, 3 times a week
  4. Control group – no exercise

During the 24 weeks of exercise, all groups were examined and compared. It was found that all three exercise groups performed well but the best-performing group across all quality parameters was the MICT group with 21.8 per cent more sperm cells, 14.1 per cent more concentrated sperm and 8.3 per cent more sperm volume compared to the other groups.

These impressive results only lasted a week after the training ended, however, before slipping back to pre-training levels.

Researchers behind this study noted that the loss of weight during training may play an important role in the quality of the sperm and that the MICT group experienced a particularly positive effect of reduced exposure of the testes to inflammatory agents and oxidative stress.

Researchers concluded that these observations suggest that intensity, duration and type of exercise regime can be taken into account when further investigating specific training for men and reproductive outcomes.

At this point, it’s safe to say that moderate exercise is good for health and advantageous for good sperm quality too.

Source: Reproduction


Meena Azzollini

Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!

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