NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new study found men who watched more than 20 hours of television per week had nearly half the sperm count of men who watched just several hours a week.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and published Monday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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Authors of the study followed 189 men between the ages of 18 and 22. They asked them about their physical activity and TV-watching habits as well as any health issues that may affect their sperm quality, like diet, stress levels and smoking.

They found those who exercised more than 15 hours a week had a 73 percent higher sperm count than those who didn’t.

On the flip side, it found men who watched more than 20 hours of TV a week had a 44 percent lower sperm count than men who watched the least amount of TV.

“I was surprised to see the strength of the association,” study author Dr. Jorge Chavarro, assistant professor of nutrition and
epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, said to “We expected an inverse relationship, but we didn’t know to what extent.”

Chavarro said he thinks the reason why men who watch more TV had lower sperm counts is because of their oxidative stress.

There is a wide variety of chemical reactions that the body goes through to generate oxygen and oxygen levels can damage cells such as sperm cells, Chavarro explained.

“We know from other studies that physical activity is associated with lower oxidative stress and being sedentary is associated with high oxidative stress,” he said.

Chavarro said that you don’t have to become a professional athlete to have a great sperm count, but getting off the couch and moving more can help.

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