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Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsports-2012-091644
  • Original article

Physical activity and television watching in relation to semen quality in young men

Press Release
  1. Jorge E Chavarro1,2,7
  1. 1Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3Division of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Murcia School of Medicine, Murcia, Spain
  4. 4University Department of Growth and Reproduction, University of Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark
  5. 5Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, USA
  6. 6Department of Preventive Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA
  7. 7Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Audrey Jane Gaskins, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Building II 3rd Floor, 655 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA; agaskins{at}hsph.harvard.edu
  2. Jorge Chavarro, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Building II 3rd Floor, 655 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA; jchavarr{at}hsph.harvard.edu
  • Received 1 August 2012
  • Revised 18 December 2012
  • Accepted 21 December 2012
  • Published Online First 4 February 2013

Abstract

Background Semen quality appears to have declined over the past decades but reasons for this decline are unresolved. The concurrent increase in sedentary behaviour may be a contributing factor. The objective of this study was to evaluate the relationship of physical activity and television (TV) watching with sperm parameters in a population of young, healthy men.

Methods Men aged 18–22 years (n=189) from the Rochester Young Men's Study (2009–2010) participated in this analysis. Physical activity (h/week of moderate and vigorous exercise) and TV watching (h/week of TV, video or DVD watching) over the past 3 months were assessed via questionnaire. Semen quality was assessed by sperm concentration, motility, morphology and total sperm count.

Results Sperm concentration and total sperm count were directly related to physical activity after multivariable adjustment (p-trend=0.01 and 0.04); men in the highest quartile of moderate-to-vigorous activity (≥15 h/week) had 73% (95% CI 15% to 160%) higher sperm concentration than men in the lowest quartile (<5 h/week). TV watching was inversely associated with sperm concentration and total sperm count in multivariable analyses (p-trend=0.05 and 0.06); men in the highest quartile of TV watching (>20 h/week) had 44% (95% CI 15 to 63%) lower sperm concentration than men in the lowest quartile (0 h/week). These measures of physical and leisure time activities were not significantly associated with sperm motility or morphology.

Conclusions In this population of healthy men, higher moderate-to-vigorous activity and less TV watching were significantly associated with higher total sperm count and sperm concentration.

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