Motility refers to your sperm's ability to swim unassisted in the final lap of the race toward the egg. If your sperm lack the ability to flip their tails and wiggle forward, you'll have difficulties in conceiving a child. A healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, can help increase sperm motility. Excessive exercise will make sperm quality worse, so striking the right balance is key.
How Exercise Helps
Exercise imparts many benefits on your sperm quality and motility. It helps you get to a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk of sperm problems and male infertility. Exercise also helps reduce stress. Stress interferes with your hormonal systems, especially testosterone production, which directly affects your sperm. Finally, exercise makes improvements to your overall health, including your heart health and reproductive system health. Some drugs used to treat medical conditions such as high blood pressure or inflammatory bowel disease can affect your sperm. Exercise helps reduce your risk of these chronic diseases.
How Exercise Hurts
A 2009 study published in the "Journal of Endocrinology" found that intense exercise caused significant defects in sperm, including lowering motility, output and quality. Exercise increases your core body temperature, which can damage sperm and interfere with healthy sperm production. A study published by the Pacific Fertility Center linked intense exercise with decreased luteinizing hormone and testosterone, two hormones necessary for healthy sperm production. Hormone levels of competitive athletes were found to return to normal after training ceased, so it's likely you can correct damage done by strenuous exercise if you scale back your program.
Medium intensity is the key when you're trying to conceive. If you approach it like training for the Olympics, you'll make the problem worse. Pick an exercise like brisk walking, jogging, swimming or running and do it for 30 minutes, three to five days out of the week. This amount of exercise isn't likely to affect sperm production, even at the upper level of your maximum heart rate. If you cycle, choose a seat that doesn't put pressure on your scrotum, or you could damage nerves that affect sperm production.
Related Lifestyle Changes
Exercise alone won't completely turn your sperm motility around. You'll need to eat a healthy diet that includes foods rich in zinc, selenium, folate and antioxidants. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These help fight sperm and reproductive system damage and are important for healthy sperm production. Avoid toxins, which directly affect your sensitive sperm. Quit smoking, avoid secondhand smoke and drink no more than one or two alcoholic beverages per day. Avoid handling pesticides, gardening chemicals and home improvement chemicals such as solvents, advises MayoClinic.com.
- MayoClinic.com: Healthy Sperm: Improving Your Fertility
- Journal of Endocrinology: The Effects of Intensive, Long-Term Treadmill Running on Reproductive Hormones, Hypothalamus-pituitary-testis Axis, and Semen Quality: A Randomized, Controlled Study; Mohammad Reza Safarinejad, Kamran Azma and Ali Asgar Kolahi; 2009
- Pacific Fertility Center: Male Infertility: Actions That Make a Difference