February 6, 2013

Gamers And Couch Potatoes Aren’t As Manly As Other Men

Bad news, boys…

There’s now more scientific data to prove that being a hardcore gamer may make you less of a man, providing of course that one defines “manhood” as being able to procreate and reproduce.

It’s no secret that living a sedentary lifestyle is ultimately bad for your health. Previous studies have found, for example, that plopping down for hours in front of the television can even lead to diabetes.

A new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has concluded that spending 20 hours a week (that’s a little less than three hours a day) in front of the tube could cut a man’s sperm count in half. Alternatively, spending as few as 15 hours a week doing some rigorous exercise can actually boost sperm count, and therefore, make you more of a man.

This new sperm study was conducted by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) who found that it wasn’t so much the act of watching TV that lowered sperm count, but the sedentary lifestyle in general. After studying the semen of nearly 200 healthy young men, the researchers found that those who spent time parked in front of a TV had lower sperm counts.

“We know very little about how lifestyle may impact semen quality and male fertility in general so identifying two potentially modifiable factors that appear to have such a big impact on sperm counts is truly exciting,” explained Audrey Gaskins, doctoral student at HSPH and lead author of this study.

In addition to taking semen samples from these young men, (aged 18 to 22) Gaskins and team also asked them to list any other activities and habits that may have also affected their swimmers. These included diet, exercise, stress and smoking. Over half of these men were reported to be within the normal weight range for their age and three out of four of them were non-smokers. On paper, these men were virile and hearty men, ready to reproduce at will.

Those men who reported exercising vigorously for 15 or more hours a week showed a 73 percent higher sperm count than those who were the least physically active.

However, those who parked themselves in front of a TV for more than 20 hours a week had very different sperm counts. According to the research, these couch potatoes had a sperm count 44 percent lower than those who watched the least amount of television.

What’s more, this study also noted that when it comes to a man’s sperm count, watching TV may even do more damage than being overweight or smoking.

There are many aspects of the sedentary lifestyle that may be to blame for this decrease in sperm count. For instance, the study found that those men who claimed they were more physically active also had generally better diets consisting of high amounts of chicken, fish, fruit, legumes and vegetables. Those who parked themselves in front of a large screen TV and their gaming console were more likely to have what the researchers called a “western diet,” consisting of delivery pizza, plenty of red meat, butter, sweets and energy drinks.

So, while it may be too early to draw a direct correlation between the TV and lower sperm counts, Dr. Sheryl Kinsberg with University Hospitals/Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland (who was not part of the study) has said men can take at least one lesson from this study:

“What it says is that men in general need to pay attention to physical activity because it does potentially impact their fertility,” said Dr. Kinsberg in an interview with MedPage Today.

Oh, and by the way, Dr. Kinsberg is one step ahead of you crafty gentlemen looking for excuses to avoid exercise.

“Walking to the refrigerator to get a beer does not count as physical activity,” she said.

Image Credit: Photos.com

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