Ready to Conceive
The Relationship Between Exercise and Fertility


It used to be that moving a lot and exercising too much was a no-no for women who wanted to get pregnant. Old school thinking tended to blame physical strain for difficulties in conception. The effect of physical activity, however, is not the same for everybody. Some conceive easily while training for a marathon; others have a hard time trying even while sedentary. Other factors such as age, health, and circumstance come into play as well.

Exercise affects the body’s ability to produce hormones that encourage pregnancy. Too much or too little may cause hormonal imbalances that can wreak havoc on ovulation. With a normal or low body mass index, intense routines can impair fertility for these can inhibit the production of progesterone.

For women with weight issues, getting pregnant may pose an even greater challenge. Overweight women with obesity-related high insulin levels are more likely to have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and may produce way too much male hormones, leading the ovaries to stop releasing eggs. Body fat distribution also has an impact in fertility. Apple-shaped women, or those with excess weight around their waist, have been shown to be less fertile than pear-shaped women, or those with excess weight around their hips and bottom.

The best thing to do is to find out what type of exercise program is right for you, most especially if you suspect that your training or your weight is causing fertility problems. You would need to consult with your doctor about adjusting your routine and lifestyle to regularize your feminine cycle and improve sperm quality and production.

If you’re wondering how exercise can be used to increase your baby-making chances, here are a few guidelines:

*Consult your doctor about the right routine for you and before starting any new exercise program.

* If you’re generally healthy, exercise moderately for at least 30 minutes on most, if not all days. If you can talk normally (without gasping for breath while exercising), your heart rate is at an acceptable level.

* For overweight women and men, start with light exercise and a healthy, balanced diet.

* Consult with your doctor about how much you should cut down on the intensity and duration of your workout sessions if you’re a fitness enthusiast.

* Watch out for warning signs that you have a fertility problem like disrupted menstrual cycles, intense cramps, or too much or too little blood flow.

* Walking and swimming are good activities that even preggy women can continue.

* Don’t do activities that put you in serious danger of getting hurt like gymnastics, skiing, biking, horseback riding, or contact sports. Scuba diving isn’t advisable for pregnant women either as a fetus cannot decompress as easily as an adult.

Generally, exercise is great for overall good health, but finding the right mix of a healthy diet and an active lifestyle is the key to an easier time conceiving.

Photo credits:

Philippine Association for Childbirth Education

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