See collections

Last revised:

The impact of exercise on sperm health

Research indicates moderate exercise increases sperm production.

It’s not a new concept, physical exercise is great for your health. Individuals who regularly exercise tend to live longer, healthier lives. Regular aerobic exercise, such as running, jogging, and swimming (to name a few), are linked to a long list of both mental and physical benefits. 

Physical activity combats chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, and also helps to increase energy and self-esteem (among other things). Additionally, physical activity and exercise impact sperm health and fertility. 

The Impact of Physical Activity on Sperm Health

In a recent Human Reproduction study, published by Oxford Academic, scientists examined the sperm samples from hundreds of men who qualified as sperm donors based on their overall health and semen quality. While all of the study participants displayed healthy levels of sperm concentration, men who participated in higher amounts of physical activity each week, and those who performed the most intense exercises, exhibited better sperm motility.

According to the study co-author, Dr. Yi-Xin Wang of Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, “Regular exercise may improve semen quality parameters among healthy, non-infertile men.” However, Wang went on to state that “it’s hard to tell how much exercise, how often, and what type of workouts men should do for optimal fertility.”

In another study conducted by the journal Reproduction, scientists found men who completed at least thirty minutes of exercise three times a week could experience a boost in their sperm count. The study included 261 participants who were relatively healthy. The men all had normal and healthy-looking sperm, and prior to the study, they all led fairly sedentary lives.

Study participants were placed into four different categories for 24 weeks and assigned various exercise levels: 

  • Sedentary lifestyle (no exercise)
  • High-intensity interval training three times a week, which included 10 one-minute fast bursts of running with a minor recovery period between bursts
  • Moderate physical exercise, which included three sessions a week (30 minutes on a treadmill)
  • Intense physical exercise, which included three sessions a week (60 minutes on a treadmill)

According to the study, participants in the three exercise groups saw improvements in their sperm count results and lost weight during the 24-week trial period. Furthermore, participants in the moderate exercise group experienced the greatest improvement in sperm health. However, the improvement was only temporary and began to wane within a month if the men stopped exercising. 

Lead researcher, Behzad Hajizadeh Maleki, remarked: “Our results show that doing exercise can be a simple, cheap and effective strategy for improving sperm quality in sedentary men. However, it’s important to acknowledge that the reason some men can’t have children isn’t just based on their sperm count. Male infertility problems can be complex and changing lifestyles might not solve these cases easily.”

Sperm Testing with Legacy

While both studies have shown that moderate exercise increases sperm count, what remains unclear is whether or not exercise translates to increased fertility. One of the most important factors in providing couples with the most accurate and effective fertility treatment plans is arriving at an accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause or causes of a couple’s infertility. 

Fertility testing is conducted when a couple is having prolonged difficulty conceiving a child. Sperm testing is conducted to test the health of sperm production for fertility. Sperm health is defined by several characteristics, to include sperm count (a normal sperm count ranges from 15 million sperm to over 200 million sperm per milliliter (ml) of semen), sperm motility (how it moves), and sperm morphology (size and shape).

Leveraging the latest innovations and advances in scientific technology, Legacy helps men test their sperm from home, comfortable and privately. With a wide variety of fertility testing packages to choose from, Legacy makes it easy to test and store your semen sample. In as little as 48 hours from receiving your sample, the Legacy Fertility Report provides clients with access to an in-depth 6-page report which analyzes the 5 key data points of male fertility: volume, count, concentration, motility and morphology.

To learn more ways to improve your sperm health, consult our guide to sperm improvement.

Explore more collections