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Dad and son playing on exercise ball

Prospective dads might want to consider hitting the gym before getting busy in the boudoir. Even a few weeks of moderate workouts prior to conception could affect the genetic profile of the genes they pass on to their offspring.

An Ohio State University study of lab mice, published in Diabetes in 2018, found that exercise changed the genetic profile of the fathers’ sperm, boosting gene-expressing small RNA molecules that suppress the effects of a poor diet and transferring those genetic benefits to the newborn mice. A year later, those mice exhibited better metabolic health than those in a control group.

“When the dad exercised, even on a high-fat diet, we saw improved metabolic health in their adult offspring,” said lead study author Kristin Stanford, PhD.

Earlier research has shown similar benefits to offspring from prospective mothers who exercised prior to conception, but the new study may have even greater impact.

“There’s potential for this to translate to humans,” she explained. “If we ask someone who’s getting ready to have a child to exercise moderately, even for a month, before conception, that could have a strong effect on the health of their sperm and the long-term metabolic health of their children.”

This originally appeared as “Healthy Dad, Healthy Kids” in the April 2019 print issue of Experience Life.

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