Exercise May Improve Male Fertility

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Infertility is recognized as a disease by the World Health Organization (WHO), American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).1

Defined as the inability to conceive a child after one year of unprotected sex, infertility affects approximately 1 out of every 8 couples.2

Approximately 90 percent of male infertility is due to low sperm count or poor sperm quality, and the remaining 10 percent are the result of structural abnormalities, hormonal imbalances, genetic defects or other problems.3 Sperm abnormalities are critical to infertility and the health of a resulting pregnancy.

While much media attention has been placed on the necessity for women to care for their bodies prior to pregnancy, research has demonstrated the need for men to care for themselves in the same way to prevent birth defects, miscarriages and infertility.

Recent research now indicates that exercise may improve quality and quantity of sperm in men who were previously sedentary.4

Exercise May Improve Sperm Quality and Quantity

In a study completed in Iran, researchers evaluated the effect of four different levels of exercise on sperm quality in sedentary men. Of the couples struggling with infertility, 1 in 3 are the result of poor sperm quality.5

In this study, researchers from Urmia University evaluated the sperm of 261 healthy men over six months.

The participants were first determined to be otherwise healthy, between 25 and 40 years of age, and didn’t regularly participate in an exercise program. They were then separated into the following four groups:6

  • No exercise
  • Three workouts a week of high-intensity training on a treadmill (HIIT)
  • Three workouts a week of 30 minutes moderate-intensity continuous training on a treadmill (MICT)
  • Three workouts a week of one-hour high-intensity continuous training on a treadmill (HICT)

The researchers used semen samples before, during and after the six-month exercise period to evaluate sperm motility, size, morphology (shape), count, semen volume and levels of inflammatory markers.

After 24 weeks, it was the MICT group who experienced the greatest improvements, although the HICT and HIIT groups also experienced improvement over the group who did not exercise.7

The MICT group had a greater than 8 percent rise in semen volume, over 12 percent improvement in sperm motility, 17 percent improvement in morphology and just over 21 percent more sperm cells on average.8

However, while the men enjoyed these improvements during the exercise program, the sperm count, concentration and morphology began dropping back to pre-workout levels within a week after stopping. Lead author of the study, Behzad Hajizadeh Maleki commented:9

“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.”

Moderate Exercise Increases Sperm Quality

The authors of the study theorized that although weight loss achieved by the men during the six months of the study was likely to have contributed to improving sperm quality, the men participating in MICT may have experienced the greatest impact as MICT reduces exposure to inflammatory agents and oxidative stress.10

Scientists have determined that exposure to electromagnetic fields, increased heat, poor nutrition, obesity, drugs, alcohol and bicycling may reduce sperm quality, and theorize that reducing these factors and improving health would then improve sperm health.

Another study of 31 men, 16 of whom were active (but did not bike) and 15 sedentary, underwent a shorter evaluation of sperm quality,11 using the WHO’s sperm quality parameters, including volume, count, motility and morphology.12

Researchers found physically active men had a higher concentration of sperm, semen volume and a higher percentage of sperm with normal morphology.

In a previous study, these same authors found men who engaged in intense exercise instead experienced a reduction in sperm quality, but moderate exercise appeared to be linked to improve sperm quality.

Researchers from the most recent study also found that moderate activity, as described in their study parameters, yielded better results. The researchers commented:13

“The present study adds to this body of evidence and shows seminal markers of inflammation and oxidative stress improved significantly after 24 weeks of MICT, HICT or HIIT, and these changes correspond with favorable improvements in semen quality parameters and sperm DNA integrity.

These results further indicate that MICT was more beneficial in improving markers of male reproductive function, compared to HICT and HIIT.

These observations suggest that the intensity, duration and type of exercise training could be taken into consideration when investigating reproductive responses to exercise training in men.”

Male Infertility Responsible for 30 Percent of Cases

Allan Pacey, Ph.D., and fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG), is the British Fertility Society spokesman and professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield. He also commented on the research results and how they may affect fertility:14

“In this context, the study makes a good contribution to the knowledge base. It is a very well conducted and a strength is that it is a randomized controlled trial with extensive data collection.

Also, the study examines how exercise affects many of the parameters of male reproductive health, not just sperm quality. However, what is likely to be of most interest to men and their doctors are the results concerning sperm quality.

Importantly, these seem to show a statistical improvement to various degrees when the men embarked on their different exercise regimes compared to men who did no exercise at all. However, an important question is whether these statistical changes are enough to be of any clinical significance.”

Male infertility contributes to 30 percent of all infertility cases.15 Of the four major causes of male infertility, between 40 percent and 50 percent of poor sperm quality is attributed to unknown factors. Male infertility is a complex condition encompassing both the health of the sperm and the mechanical functioning of the male reproductive system.16

Testing for male infertility includes a semen sample analysis, blood work, physical examination and an evaluation for any current infections or structural damage from past infections. Although frustrating to a couple trying to conceive a child, the risk of poor sperm quality extends beyond the inability to conceive.

Risks Associated With Poor Sperm Quality

Sperm motility, or the ability of sperm to move quickly and in a straight line, is one factor associated with sperm quality. Sperm that are sluggish or move poorly may be associated with DNA fragmentation, and the potential risk for passing genetic diseases.17There is also some evidence that male infertility may be a risk factor for testicular cancer.18

Recurrent miscarriages may be attributed to chromosomal damage to either the egg or the sperm,19 and reduced sperm quality is associated with congenital deformities.20 Chromosomal abnormalities in the sperm may contribute to poor sperm quality.

The risks of poor quality sperm also extend to the health of the man. Defects in sperm quality are linked to a variety of health concerns, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and skin and glandular disorders.21 Lead researcher Dr. Michael Eisenberg, assistant professor of urology and director of reproductive medicine and surgery at Stanford School of Medicine, commented that “[i]t may be that infertility is a marker for sickness overall.”22

A study evaluating more than 9,000 men with fertility issues found a correlation between defects in a man’s sperm and the likelihood he suffers from other health conditions.23 A previous study Eisenberg co-authored also indicated that men who experienced infertility issues had an overall higher rate of mortality in the following years. According to Eisenberg:24

“A man’s health is strongly correlated with his semen quality. Given the high incidence of infertility, we need to take a broader view. As we treat men’s infertility, we should also assess their overall health. That visit to a fertility clinic represents a big opportunity to improve their treatment for other conditions, which we now suspect could actually help resolve the infertility they came in for in the first place.”

Natural Sperm Boosting Options

While moderate exercise may help to improve sperm quality, there are other lifestyle choices that may help to enhance the improvements you experience. Infertility is a complex condition that is intimately incorporated the rest of your health. You may improve your sperm quality as you also improve your overall health and wellness.

Use Moderate-Intensity Continuous Exercise While Trying to Conceive

Although HIIT is a healthy adjunct to an exercise program, the increased heat and oxidative stress on your body may produce time-limited changes to your sperm quality, and reduce your potential to conceive.

Reduce Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

Unprecedented decline in fertility rates and semen quality in the past decade may be attributed to exposure to phthalates in your environment.25 Animal studies have demonstrated an association between phthalates and testicular toxicity26 and lowered sperm count.27 Other chemicals to avoid include paint fumes, pesticides, formaldehyde, organic solvents and dry cleaning chemicals.

Optimize Your Vitamin D Level

Low vitamin D levels have been linked to infertility in both men and women. In men it is essential for the healthy development of the nucleus of the sperm cell, and helps maintain semen quality and sperm count.

Vitamin D also increases levels of testosterone, which may boost libido. Aim to maintain a level of 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) year-round.

Maintain Your Weight Within Normal Limits Through a Whole Food Diet

Obesity changes male hormone levels, which has a direct impact on sperm molecular composition and function.28 Use fresh foods as often as possible, ideally organically grown, to avoid pesticides. Seek out pastured, organic meat and dairy products, raw nuts, seeds and vegetables, and avoid dangerous trans fats found in many processed foods and vegetable oils.

Reduce or Eliminate Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs

Each of these creates an added stress on your body with demonstrated reduction in fertility, sperm motility and quality.

Avoid the Heat

Sperm require a specific temperature to remain active and viable. Avoid wearing tight underwear and tight pants, taking hot showers or baths and sitting in hot tubs. Keep your laptop off your lap as the increased heat from the machine also increases the temperature of your scrotum.29

Your body will naturally keep your sperm at the right temperature when you avoid circumstances that abnormally increase the temperature of your scrotum.

Avoid Placing Your Mobile Phone in Your Front Pants Pocket

Research shows mobile phone radiation increases DNA fragmentation and reduces sperm motility.30

Written By: Dr. Mercola http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2016/12/23/exercise-improve-male-fertility.aspx


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Runners’ brains show greater connections

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A new study has found that runners’ brains, compared to non-runners, show greater connections. What does this mean exactly? The researchers found that runners had greater functional connectivity compared to those who lived more sedentary lives.

The researchers compared brain scans of cross country runners to scans of young adults who did not partake in regular physical activity. The runners showed overall greater functional connectivity in several different areas of the brain which could boost problem-solving, decision making, and switching attention between tasks.

The researchers suggest that these findings create groundwork for future studies to test whether or not frequent running or physical activity could improve cognitive function.

University of Arizona running expert David Raichlen explained, “One of the things that drove this collaboration was that there has been a recent proliferation of studies, over the last 15 years, that have shown that physical activity and exercise can have a beneficial impact on the brain, but most of that work has been in older adults. This question of what’s occurring in the brain at younger ages hasn’t really been explored in much depth, and it’s important. Not only are we interested in what’s going on in the brains of young adults, but we know that there are things that you do across your lifespan that can impact what happens as you age, so it’s important to understand what’s happening in the brain at these younger ages.”

Although there have been numerous studies on how certain activities can improve certain functions there is lack of evidence to show if repetitive physical activity that doesn’t require fine motor skills can improve brain function. “These activities that people consider repetitive actually involve many complex cognitive functions — like planning and decision-making — that may have effects on the brain,” added Raichlen.

It’s important to uncover what impacts the brains of young adults as this could help prevent cognitive diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the future. If future studies reveal that running, and other exercise, can improve and prevent dementia then it could be a more widely recommended approach to prevent it.

Co-researcher Gene Alexander concluded, “One of the key questions that these results raise is whether what we’re seeing in young adults — in terms of the connectivity differences — imparts some benefit later in life. The areas of the brain where we saw more connectivity in runners are also the areas that are impacted as we age, so it really raises the question of whether being active as a young adult could be potentially beneficial and perhaps afford some resilience against the effects of aging and disease.”

Written By:Emily Lunardo  Article Source: http://www.belmarrahealth.com/runners-brains-show-greater-connections/

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How Technology Will Reverse Disease and Add Decades to Life Expectancy

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The technology industry has entered the medical arena and changes are occurring rapidly.

Many big medical companies and doctors withhold data in attempt to protect their own domain and this has caused a serious stagnation in medical discoveries and developments over the past century. Fortunately, all that is changing thanks to the fact that the technology industry has entered the medical arena. This convergence of medicine with biotechnology, infotechnology and nanotechnology, is leading to extremely rapid medical and healthcare advances. With Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) companies and other major tech companies (including Apple, Google, Microsoft and IBM) now in the healthcare realm, the elimination of most diseases will be possible in the very near future and the human lifespan will be significantly prolonged.

Benefits of the Convergence of Medicine and Technology:

  • An immeasurable amount of medical data, research and information pertaining to the human body (including the 19,000+ human genomes) can be entered into an A.I. device. The device will be able to dissect and comprehend more information than the human brain ever could. It will help identify the precise cause of every disease, and create a map for longevity.
  • Technology helps to take healthcare out of the hands of doctors and Big Pharma and put it into the hands of the consumer. Our smart phones are quickly turning into our personal physicians and by the early 2020’s our doctors will be in our pockets. Sensor based apps will be able to monitor vital signs and cellular functions and provide that data to the individual in a comprehensive way (as opposed to the typical medical jargon on medical test result forms). This will save us thousands on healthcare bills and give us full access to our own medical records.
  • Technological devices will be able to prescribe medicine based on a systematic understanding of our personal biochemical and physiological requirements. This will take the trial, error and tribulations out of the process of prescribing medicine.
  • Artificial Intelligence based physicians will become the ultimate preventative medicine companion. They will keep track of our daily activities (how long and how deep we sleep, what we eat, stress levels, activity levels, etc.), analyze them, and guide us towards optimal health with personalized directions.
  • A.I. physicians will keep us motivated and on track with our healthy lifestyle choices through a variety of techniques (e.g. they will send a picture of how you will look with added weight, anytime you skip your workout or overindulge in junk food).

*The above is based on a recording of doctor Ron Klatz with Dr. Vivek Wadwha, during the Brinks Longevity Conference in Palm Springs, California.


Article Source: http://www.worldhealth.net/news/how-technology-will-reverse-disease-and-add-decade/

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Developing a Strong Grip Is One Secret to Getting Stronger Overall

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Grip strength is an often overlooked and underappreciated aspect of strength training. After all, you use your grip for things like picking up and holding weights to supporting your bodyweight. If you can’t grip, you’ll have a hard time lifting, even if your other muscles are up for the task.

It’s not just weights, either. If your grip strength isn’t up to par in a pull-up, for example, you wouldn’t be able to pull yourself up. I mean, there could be many other possible weaknesses (crappy core and lats maybe) that keep you from getting stronger, but grip can easily be trained. Breaking Muscle provides a couple of ideas:

  • Hanging: Just hang. Hold on to a horizontal bar for dear life for a certain amount of time. The thicker the bar, the harder it is.
  • Loaded carries: These are a category of exercises that involves holding various amounts and types of weights in different ways. A farmer’s walk is one example.
  • Pinching: Hold a weight plate in your hands and pinch it like you’re holding a sandwich.
  • Extensor training: On the other hand, too much gripping can tighten up certain muscles in your forearms. Wrap a rubberband (like those used to wrap broccoli or asparagus) around your fingers and practice opening them up as wide as you can to give attention to your underworked extensor muscles.

Grip training seems like such a “gym bro” thing to do, but gripping things is baked into everyday stuff: You have to open jars, shake hands, hold bags, and so on. Don’t be that person who has a crappy handshake.

Written by Stephanie Lee.  Article Source: http://vitals.lifehacker.com/developing-a-strong-grip-is-one-secret-to-getting-stron-1788953434


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AHA: Healthy Lifestyle Eases Heart Impact of High Genetic Risk

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Genes by themselves do not destine patients to coronary artery disease (CAD), a study reported, showing that a high genetic risk may be controlled with healthy lifestyle choices.

Patients at the top quintile of polygenic scores (indicating the highest genetic risk) had double the events as did their peers at the bottom quintile (HR 1.91, 95% CI 1.75-2.09), according to the BioImage study.

But a healthy lifestyle — no current smoking, no obesity, regular physical activity, and a healthy diet or at least three of those criteria — appeared to half the risk of coronary events for those high genetic-risk people compared with meeting only one or none of the healthy criteria (HR 0.54, 95% CI 0.47-0.63).

Sekar Kathiresan, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, reported the BioImage study here at the annual American Heart Association meeting and simultaneously online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Patients may equate DNA-based risk estimates with determinism, a perceived lack of control over the ability to improve outcomes,” they concluded. “However, our results provide evidence that lifestyle factors may powerfully modify risk regardless of the patient’s genetic risk profile.”

“Although the absolute risk reduction that was associated with adherence to a healthy lifestyle was greatest in the group at high genetic risk, our results support public health efforts that emphasize a healthy lifestyle for everyone,” the study authors wrote.

“Genetic testing is not common presently, but I do believe that there could be clinical utility for this kind of testing. The testing could be useful to target preventive interventions, such as statin medications,” Kathiresan told MedPage Today.

Patients with the highest genetic risk may also be targeted to undergo more intensive lifestyle modification — although whether or not that can improve hard cardiovascular outcomes remains to be seen, the BioImage investigators acknowledged.

Additionally, the authors suggested that all healthy lifestyle factors may not be equal: some may be tied to more benefit than others.

“We need to ensure that our patients understand that having both a high genetic risk and a poor lifestyle is a very dangerous combination,” George Thanassoulis, MD, of McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, told MedPage Today. Thanassoulis was not involved in the present study.

Kathiresan’s analysis incorporated prospectively collected data from 55,685 patients from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (n=7,814), Women’s Genome Health Study (n=21,222), the Malmo Diet and Cancer Study (n=22,389), and the BioImage Study itself (n=4,260).

A healthy lifestyle was associated with a lower subclinical burden of heart disease in terms of less coronary artery calcification among all genetic risk groups (28 Agatston units for favorable lifestyle versus 28 Agatston units for unfavorable lifestyle, P<0.001).

The investigators acknowledged several limitations to their study, including its non-randomized nature and the pooling of data gathered using each cohort’s different methods. In addition, the authors did not account for behavioral changes or competing illnesses that would have raised patients’ risk for cardiac events

Finally, their findings have yet to be duplicated in robust ethnicity-specific data.

Thanassoulis commented: “Genetic testing for CAD is not commonly performed in a clinical context, but the evidence over the last several years is mounting that genetic testing may have clinical utility. Recent studies have shown that genetic risk can identify those individuals who are at highest risk of MI, can identify those who may benefit most from statin therapy, as well as now (with this study), those who should be encouraged, most strongly, to adhere to a healthy lifestyle.”

“What we need now in the field is a randomized trial to confirm these findings in order to bring genetic testing for CAD to the clinic,” he said.

Article Source: http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/AHA/61398?xid=nl_mpt_DHE_2016-11-14&eun=g118127d0r&pos=2

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Green Tea May Reduce Men’s Cancer Risk

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Supplements of green tea extract may reduce prostate cancer risk, among men with lesions or neoplasia.

Green tea (Camelia sinensis) is an abundant source of antioxidants – notably, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Previous studies have suggested that supplements of green tea extract may confer a variety of cardiovascular and cancer protective effects. Nagi B. Kumar, from the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute (Florida, United States), and colleagues enrolled 97 men who had premalignant prostate lesions or high-grade intraepithelial neoplasia.  Tracking for changes in  high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN) and/or atypical small acinar proliferation (ASAP), study participants were randomly assigned to receive either a supplement containing green tea extract (400 mg EGCG), or placebo, for one year. The researchers observed that the man who receive the green tea supplement experienced reduced combined rates of HGPIN/ASAP, as well as decreased levels of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). The study authors report that: ” Daily intake of a standardized, decaffeinated catechin mixture containing 400 mg EGCG per day for 1 year accumulated in plasma and was well tolerated but did not reduce the likelihood of PCa in men with baseline [high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia] or [atypical small acinar proliferation].”

Article Source: http://www.worldhealth.net/news/green-tea-may-reduce-mens-cancer-risk/

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Oxytocin improves synchronization in leader-follower interaction

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A new study from Center for Music in the Brain, Denmark, shows that participants receiving oxytocin — a hormone known to promote social bonding — are more synchronized when finger-tapping together, than participants receiving placebo

When standing in a crowd at a concert, clapping hands along with the music on stage, it may be that people with higher levels of oxytocin are better synchronised with the beat of the music than those with lower levels of oxytocin.

A new study from Center for Music in the Brain (MIB) Aarhus University/The Royal Academy of Music, Denmark, published in Scientific Reports on the 8th of December 2016, shows that participants receiving oxytocin – a hormone known to promote social bonding – are more synchronized when finger-tapping together, than participants receiving placebo. This effect was observed when pairs of participants, placed in separate rooms tapped together in a leader/follower relationship.

When people synchronise their movements together, for example by walking in time, clapping or making music, they seem to like each other more and report feeling greater affiliation with each other. Oxytocin is a naturally occurring hormone that has been shown to promote social interaction, such as cooperation and affiliation. However, until now it has been unclear whether the social effect of oxytocin is a direct one, or whether oxytocin in fact primarily affects synchronisation and only secondarily social behaviours.

We set out to test these questions by measuring whether increased levels of oxytocin affected how pairs of participants synchronised together to a steady beat. One group of pairs received oxytocin through nasal spray, and another group received a placebo, also through nasal spray.

Our results indicate that oxytocin indeed affects synchronisation between participants but we did not find that oxytocin influenced how much tappers liked their tapping partners. The followers in the oxytocin group were less variable in their tapping to the beat suggesting that they were better at predicting the taps of their leaders. Thus oxytocin’s social effect may be explained by its role in facilitating prediction in interaction, even in the absence of subjectively experienced social affiliation.

The ability to synchronise to a musical beat is largely a human skill. Our study contributes to our understanding of how this form of human behaviour is affected by socio-biological factors, such as oxytocin and leader-follower relationships. It also highlights how music creates and maintains social cohesion in an evolutionary perspective.



  • Study design: double-blinded randomised control study (RCT)
  • Original article can be found at http://www.nature.com/articles/srep38416
  • Principal Investigators on the study were Assoc. Prof. Line Gebauer Ass. Prof. Maria Witek and Prof. Peter Vuust, Center for Music in the Brain (MIB), Dept. of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University, Denmark/The Royal Academy of Music Aarhus/Aalborg, Denmark. http://musicinthebrain.au.dk/

The study was performed in collaboration with Assoc. Prof. Ivana Konvalinka (DTU).

* The Danish National Research Foundation’s Center for Music In the Brain (MIB) is an interdisciplinary research center addressing the dual questions of how music is processed in the brain and how this can inform our understanding of fundamental principles behind brain processing in general. The center employs state-of-the-art scanning methods (MR, fMRI, MEG, EEG, PET) and behavioral measures.

MIB is a collaboration between Aarhus University (AU) and The Royal Academy of Music (RAMA) located at AU. With a strong foundation in music practice and theory at the highest level, and a focus on clinical application of music, MIB combines neuroscientific, musicological and psychological research in music perception, action, emotion and learning, with the potential to test the most prominent theories of brain function, and to influence the way we play, teach, use, and listen to music. http://dg.dk/en/centers-of-excellence-2/list-of-centers/

* External funding: The Danish National Research Foundation

Article Source: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-12/au-ois120916.php


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