from the world's big
Male sperm count is declining globally. Exercise helps.
A new study in Human Reproduction says men have to keep moving.
- A new study, published in Human Reproduction, found that exercise helps increase sperm motility.
- 746 healthy young men were studied over a six-month period; the more exercise they got, the better their sperm.
- Globally, sperm counts have gone down by over 50 percent over the last half-century.
For generations (and likely much longer), the blame for an inability to conceive fell on a woman's shoulders. Yet that's not, nor ever has been, the case. In at least 40 percent of couples, sperm (or lack of) is the problem. It could be sperm count, but it could also be size, shape, or motility. As explained on the new Netflix series, "Sex, Explained," jockey shorts, hot tubs, and masturbation have no effect whatsoever on sperm count or quality even though those myths have long been perpetuated.
There are actual risk factors, however. Heavy usage of bodybuilding steroids can cause gonadal impairment. Exposure to the fertilizer, DBCP, makes men infertile. Banned in the US in 1979, the nematicide caused widespread problems in plantation workers in a number of countries. Those men successfully sued the American manufacturers that refused to remove the fertilizer from circulation.
Yet something even more troubling is going on. A 2017 meta-analysis discovered that worldwide, the average sperm count dropped from 99 million sperm per milliliter in 1973 to 47 million in 2011. The likely culprit: plastics. As if we needed yet another reason to discuss the scourge of microplastics. The entire situation is another reminder that progress—in this regard, plastics everywhere around us—has consequences.
This doesn't make us impotent—to this problem, at least. Just as there are reasons for this excessive drop in sperm count, there are means for raising them back up (well, at least their swimming abilities). A new study in the journal, Human Reproduction, focused on one of the most important: exercise.
Sex, Explained S1 | Main Trailer
Previously, studies were inconclusive connecting exercise and sperm health. The China-based researchers (some with ties to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Indiana University Bloomington in the States) write that many of those studies recruited less than 100 men. For this study, 746 healthy young men joined in for a six-month investigation. Thousands of sperm samples were analyzed.
To impregnate a woman, three important factors were considered: sperm concentration, sperm morphology, and motility. To increase chances of procreation, there needs to be a lot of swimmers, successful sperm have to have the right shape and size, and they have to know how to swim. (As explained in the Netflix show, strength and speed are not necessarily relevant factors, but they need to know how to navigate the terrain.)
Though duration and type of exercise were not determined, one thing is clear: men who exercised more exhibit better sperm. Those who exercised the most had the best sperm motility, while those who exercised least showed the worst results. Count and morphology were not affected by exercise.
Willian of Chelsea in action during a gym training session at Chelsea Training Ground on October 15, 2019 in Cobham, England.
Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images
Previous research suggests that excessive exercise can have the opposite effect, however: too much working out can be bad for reproductive fitness. For both men and women, stress levels also affect reproductive capabilities. Ironically, being tired from a sedentary lifestyle produces similar outcomes as exercising to exhaustion.
That said, the consequences of not exercising are far more dangerous. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, inflammation, and even sex drive are all affected when you're not regularly moving your body. The researchers recommend moderate exercise to achieve optimal results.
They also note that global trends in obesity make research like this important. Reproductive fitness is an essential quality in every species. There might be more than enough humans at the moment—from an evolutionary perspective, we've done quite well—but no future is guaranteed. Survival comes down to strong sperm and healthy eggs.
Women, as mentioned, have taken the brunt of the blame for far too long. The science is clear: men are half the problem. Time for us to step up our game and own the consequences.
Educators and administrators must build new supports for faculty and student success in a world where the classroom might become virtual in the blink of an eye.
- If you or someone you know is attending school remotely, you are more than likely learning through emergency remote instruction, which is not the same as online learning, write Rich DeMillo and Steve Harmon.
- Education institutions must properly define and understand the difference between a course that is designed from inception to be taught in an online format and a course that has been rapidly converted to be offered to remote students.
- In a future involving more online instruction than any of us ever imagined, it will be crucial to meticulously design factors like learner navigation, interactive recordings, feedback loops, exams and office hours in order to maximize learning potential within the virtual environment.
A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.
- A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
- Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
- The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
Neil deGrasse Tyson wants to go ice fishing on Europa<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="GLGsRX7e" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="f4790eb8f0515e036b24c4195299df28"> <div id="botr_GLGsRX7e_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/GLGsRX7e-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Water Vapor Above Europa’s Surface Deteced for First Time<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9c4abc8473e1b89170cc8941beeb1f2d"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WQ-E1lnSOzc?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
New study shows white dwarf stars create an essential component of life.
- White dwarf stars create carbon atoms in the Milky Way galaxy, shows new study.
- Carbon is an essential component of life.
- White dwarfs make carbon in their hot insides before the stars die.
What Are White Dwarf Stars?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7b046e546ce994682b2553a8c978eb32"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/77a1KSxfaR0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Master negotiator Chris Voss breaks down how to get what you want during negotiations.
- Former FBI negotiator Chris Voss explains how forced empathy is a powerful negotiating tactic.
- The key is starting a sentence with "What" or "How," causing the other person to look at the situation through your eyes.
- What appears to signal weakness is turned into a strength when using this tactic.
3 Tips on Negotiations, with FBI Negotiator Chris Voss | Best of '16 | Big Think<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b86d518e9f0c9f9d7a7c686e07798152"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-FLlBchonwM?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>This question forces a response, but—and this is key—the other person has to consider your side of the argument. They have to look at the situation from your perspective if they hope to offer a solution.</p><p>Offering a real-world example, Voss mentions coaching a high-end real estate agent. They were leasing an expensive home in the Hollywood Hills. The first time the negotiators asked the "how" question, the leasing agent relented on a number of terms. A little while later, they asked again. This time, the agent said, "If you want the house you're going to have to do it," signaling that the end of negotiations had been reached. </p><p>Voss says that "how" is not the only word that works. "What" is also a powerful entry into negotiations, such as "What am I supposed to do?" Again, you're forcing the other person to empathize. </p><p>This is a particularly tricky skill during a time when most conversations are online. Nuance is impossible without the immediacy of pantomimes and vocal fluctuations. Whataboutism is too easy an escape. </p>
Aikido Morihei Ueshiba (1883 - 1969, standing, centre left), founder of the Japanese martial art of aikido, demonstrating his art with a follower, at the opening ceremony of the newly-opened aikido headquarters, Hombu Dojo, in Shinjuku, Tokyo, 1967.
(Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)<p>Online debates often amount to little more than frustrated individuals pulling out their hair. In his book, "Against Empathy," Yale psychology professor Paul Bloom writes that effective altruists are able to focus on what really matters in everyday life.</p><p>For example, he compares politics to sports. Rooting for your favorite team isn't based in rationality. If you're a Red Sox fan, Yankees stats don't matter. You just want to destroy them. This, he believes, is how most people treat politics. "They don't care about truth because, for them, it's not really about truth."</p><p>Bloom writes that if his son believed our ancestors rode dinosaurs, it would horrify him, but "I can't think of a view that matters less for everyday life." We have to strive for rationality when the stakes are high. When involved in real decision-making processes that will affect their life, people are better able to express ideas and make arguments, and are more receptive to opposing ideas. </p><p>Because we "become inured to problems that seem unrelenting," it's imperative to make the problem seem immediate. As Voss says, giving the other side "the illusion of control" is one way of accomplishing this, as it forces them to take action. When people feel out of control, negotiations are impossible. People dig their heels in and refuse to budge. </p><p>What seems to be weakness is actually a strength. To borrow another martial arts metaphor, negotiations are like aikido: using your opponent's force against them while also protecting them from injury. Forcing empathy is one way to accomplish this task. You may get more than you ask for without the other side ever realizing they surrendered anything.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>