What men can do to help their future children

Health Watch

For years, women who are planning a pregnancy have heard the advice – take prenatal vitamins, eat right, and exercise in moderation.
Now, researchers have some new pre-conception advice for dads.

Hitting the gym or pounding the pavement. New research suggests that doing this may improve the metabolic health of their future children.

Scientists at the Ohio State University and Joslin Diabetes Center say there is mounting evidence that dad’s exercise before conception plays a role in a child’s body weight and glucose tolerance. Researchers studied mice and put some on a high-fat diet, while others were on a chow or healthy diet.

Half of the mice on high-fat diets were kept sedentary, while others were given access to exercise wheels. After three weeks, they were bred with sedentary female mice.

Kristin I. Stanford is a physiologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. She says, “The offspring who were from dads who exercised and were fed a high-fat diet had improved metabolic health compared with those fed a high-fat diet.”

Stanford says in humans, this could mean even moderate exercise by dad could negate a high-fat diet and improve a child’s chances for good metabolic health. So think brisk walking, swimming or mowing the lawn for 150 minutes a week.

If you count your daily steps, it’s about three or four thousand steps. Stanford says, “This is just one intervention that can occur before you’re even born – a benefit you can confer onto your kids that can really protect them later in life.”

Stanford and her colleagues say they think some of the improvements are occurring through changes in the sperm. Earlier studies proved that when mouse mothers exercised their offspring also benefitted.

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