Ok, we admit the title of this post is misleading. There are no "quick and easy" workout guides.
We're probably not the first to tell you that exercise is good for your health. But... you may not be aware that exercise can be really good for your sperm.
A recent study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that men who watched more than 20 hours a week of television had a 44% lower sperm count than men who exercised instead.
Here are a few things to consider to optimize your workout routine to improve male fertility when trying to conceive:
Get moving: Cardiovascular exercise like jogging, hiking or swimming helps to condition the heart and improve blood flow throughout the body. This can help strengthen erections and reduce toxins in the testicles. It can also improve sperm count. A six month study recruited sedentary men and assigned them various forms of cardiovascular exercise. Compared to the control group (who did nothing), men who went for a 30 min jog 3-6 days a week saw improvements semen volume, sperm count and sperm health.
Get competitive: Team sports are a fun, easy way to keep your heart rate up for a longer period of time. Competition has also been shown to boost testosterone levels. When playing sports that have a risk of a shot to the groin (baseball, hockey, football, etc) make sure to wear proper protection as a well-aimed shot below the belt could really dampen baby-making plans.
Get swole: A study in the Journal of Human Reproduction showed that regular weightlifters and outdoorsmen had 42% higher sperm counts than other guys. Working the large muscle groups, quads, hamstrings and glutes are particularly helpful in boosting testosterone levels, so don’t skip out on leg day.
Avoid the juice: Steroid abuse inhibits natural testosterone production and can prevent you from making sperm. Long term use can irreversibly damage tissues in the testicle which can lead to lifelong infertility, shrunken testicles, man boobs and low T.
Minimize time on the bike: Cycling is great cardiovascular exercise, but bike seats can be a bit hard of the family jewels. If you are an avid cyclist, take steps to keep your balls safe. Try not to put too much pressure on them or let the get overheated. Both of those things can impact sperm health.
Avoid overtraining: Like all things, exercise is best in moderation. Overtraining can actually have negative impacts on your hormones. Luckily, it takes a lot to over train. This message is primary directed at fitness junkies who regularly do extreme sports, marathons or ultra-marathons. If you are an elite athlete and trying to conceive, do a little research on how to optimize performance without over-training.
If you are just getting started, the idea of setting up a workout routine may seem daunting, especially if you aren’t really the “athletic” type. Here are some other ideas to jumpstart a new fitness program:
Try something new: Sometimes the best way to get moving is to sign up for something new. Here are some ideas: ultimate frisbee, swing dancing, martial arts, scuba diving, kayaking, surfing, skateboarding, geo-caching, fencing or gardening.
Mile challenge: Find a place either outside or on a treadmill that you can regularly go a mile. On day one, go as fast as feels comfortable. A jog, a light jog, a brisk walk. Time yourself. Write down your time. Do it again a few days later. This time watch the clock as you go. Try to beat your old time. Competition with yourself can be incredibly motivating as you knock seconds and even minutes off your time.
Distance challenge: If you don’t want to watch a clock and you’d really like to try to give jogging a chance, I highly recommend a distance challenge. This is best when you can run outside. Jog a block, then two, then three. If you run the same route every day you can just go a little further than you did the day before. I was able to increase my running distance from about a ¼ mile to over 10 miles using this technique.
Getting started with weightlifting: Weight training can feel like the ultimate meathead form of exercise, but it’s worth trying if you’ve never done it. Increased strength can prevent injury, improve bone density and boost testosterone. It’s also a bit tricky to know where to start. The obvious thing would be to go to the benchpress, put on a few plates and try to lift it. That can be both discouraging and counterproductive. There are a ton of good programs out there that can ease you in. Many of them will focus on trying to balance your left and right sides and identify areas of relative weakness that need to be strengthened first to prevent injury. Typically weights start out lower and build as you cycle through routines that vary weight with the number of repetitions. If you want to have more fun with it, many gyms offer a crossfit option that combines weight-lifting with cardio training that can feel really rewarding.
Whatever you do, know that taking steps to get in better shape will not only improve your health but also help you to feel better.
Your heart, your balls and your partner will thank you.