Want to Be a Dad? Turn off the Tube and Get Some Exercise

Men who exercise (moderately or vigorously) at least 15 hours per week have sperm counts that are 73% higher than those of men who get little or no exercise, according to researchers at Harvard’s School of Public Health. At the same time, men who watch 20 or more hours of television have sperm counts that are half of those of men who hardly watch TV.

This fits right in with the steady, worldwide decline in sperm quantity and quality. Another factor here could be that watching TV isn’t usually the most romantic of activities. Time spent in front of the TV is time you’re not going to be spending having sex. And there’s plenty of evidence that, contrary to popular belief, frequent sex increases sperm production and quality.

If you’re not already a regular exerciser, don’t go overboard. Injuring yourself could put you right back on the couch, where you’ll be stuck watching too much TV again. Plus, there’s some research that suggests that overexercising could also reduce sperm quality.

The study was just published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Want smarter kids? Have them play with dad.

One of the most classically dad things is playing–physically–with the kids. Now along comes another study that proves that imaginative play with dad is good for kids’s brains too. When you encourage your children’s imagination, their vocabularies are larger and they do better in math.

What’s unique about this particular study, which was done at Utah State University, is that the researchers went to the trouble of, gasp, including dads. Most previous play studies had looked at mom-child interactions.

So how do you boost the amount of imaginative play? Start by encouraging make believe and fantasy. Then, when your reading stories, don’t be shy about acting out some parts or talking about what’s happening in the illustrations or why particular characters are doing what they’re doing. Plopping your kids in front of the TV (or even watching silently with them) or reading books straight through from beginning to end without any commentary won’t help.

A bit more detail on the study here:



Too Much of a Bad Thing Can Be Terrible

Dear Mr. Dad: My 11-year-old son sometimes watches the evening news with me and he seems genuinely disturbed by some of it. He keeps asking why all these bad things are happening. Frankly, my wife and I aren’t sure how to answer him or whether we should even allow him to keep watching at all. Is he too young to be exposed to TV news?

A: You certainly have a point. It does seem that with the exception of an occasional feel-good story, just about all the news on TV these days is alarming: wars, violence, natural disasters, foreclosures, and other events that most of us have no control over.
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Too Much Tube?

Dear Mr. Dad: My 18-month old son is suddenly obsessed with TV. He watches at least 3-4 hours per day. My wife doesn’t see the problem since it allows her to get stuff done around the house, but I’m worried. How much TV is too much?

A: Great question—one you have every right to be concerned about. Watching too much TV is a growing problem in our society—especially for children. Studies are all over the place, but they generally show that American children watch two to six hours of television per day. Plus they spend a few more in front of other screens, watching DVDs or playing video games.
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