Fighting against Dad-Bod: Having a good exercise routine prior to fatherhood can impact your child’s physical health

A new article in the medical journal, Diabetes, looked at how paternal exercise improves glucose metabolism in adult offspring.

Poor paternal diet has emerged as a risk factor for metabolic disease in offspring, and alterations in sperm may be a major mechanism mediating these detrimental effects of diet. While exercise in the general population is known to improve health, the effects of paternal exercise on sperm and offspring metabolic health are largely unknown.

Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center say that fathers who exercise before a child is conceived may result in life-long health effects including:

  • lower body weight
  • increased insulin sensitivity, which can reduce the risk of diseases, including diabetes.
  • decreased fat mass

The study found that dads didn’t need to hit the gym daily years before they were ready to have a child.

If dads exercise even three to four weeks prior to conceiving a child, that could have long-term health effects on your child, leading to obesity and diabetes prevention.

Now – it should be noted that this research wasn’t done with humans — these are conclusions they are drawing from animal models with mice. The results of the study with mice were that:

  • Mice that exercised freely had offspring with better metabolic health.
  • The sedentary male mouse with the high-fat diet passed along the traits of poor metabolic health, which is associated with obesity and diseases and higher glucose intolerance, which is a risk factor for diabetes.

SO – what does this ALL really mean for us? Really, there is a ton of research of what pregnant mothers should not do prior to and  during pregnancy…but there is little research about fathers. What this study tells us is that a father’s physical health prior to conception is immensely important on child development…and that a physically inactive dad with poor dietary habits could lead to a kid that is more likely to be obese and have diabetes.

All in all…. what this should remind us is that we should all be striving to engage in consistent moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (see CDC guidelines on exercise for adults), and that, by doing so, we are creating a healthier future for our future children.

Padre Cadre members — what is your experience with exercise pre-fatherhood….and also, have you been able to maintain that in fatherhood? If so, how? Please share your experiences!

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