When it’s taking you longer than you expected to conceive a child, you may begin looking at your lifestyle. Peruse the internet, books, or magazines on the subject and your confronted with list upon list of do’s and don’ts that seemingly affect your ability to conceive. While many of these pearls of wisdom do contain sound advice, some only add to your confusion.
One of the most debated subjects revolving around the ability to become pregnant is exercise. While you may feel tremendously fragile at this time, we can assure you exercise won’t harm you. In fact, the right amount of exercise, and the type of exercise you perform, may actually enhance your fertility and improve your quest to conceive.
Keeping active while trying to become pregnant helps you in so many ways. Regular aerobic exercise-those activities that increase your heart rate and get your blood pumping-is essential to a healthy cardiovascular system. When you work out you increase your endorphins which help alleviate stress-and who isn’t experiencing a little stress when trying to conceive?
Although exercise is recommended for many women, before and during pregnancy, there are a few caveats. If there is any reason why you shouldn’t perform even low-impact exercise, consult your physician. Always let your doctor know what kind of workouts you favor most, how often and how vigorously you work out.
A Word About Weight
If you are overweight, and TTC, you need to get your weight under control. Being overweight is associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and can create an imbalance in your hormones, which will impair your ability to ovulate. Overweight women are at risk for serious health complications when they do become pregnant. For many women in the overweight-obese category on a BMI chart, losing just 10% of their body weight will improve fertility.
Being underweight also impacts your fertility. Weighing in under the normal BMI classification can interfere with your menstrual cycle, stopping ovulation. Maintaining a healthy weight also helps you to support a pregnancy. While the BMI chart doesn’t take into account bone structure, or muscle mass, it does provide a general idea of a healthy weight based on your height.
Exercise can help you in your efforts to achieve a healthy body weight. Whether you’re over-, or under-weight you will benefit from moderate exercise. Also, a healthy weight, combined with fitness, can improve your body image, in turn making you feel sexier. Obviously, a benefit when you’re trying to become pregnant!
The Best Kinds of Exercise for Your Fertility
Moderate forms of exercise for five hours or less per week are typically recommended for healthy women of all body types when you’re TTC. If you usually go hard and heavy in your workout endeavors, try scaling back on intensity. Replace your strenuous exercise with one of these recommended workouts:
- Walking is always a safe way to get your exercise. It’s excellent for your cardiovascular system, builds endurance, is low-impact, and a great stress-buster.
- Dancing helps you bust a move and improve blood flow. Dancing also offers a decent calorie-burn.
- Bicycling for 30 minutes few times a week is a wonderful way to get your workout in. Just make sure you’re safe; wear a helmet and watch out for careless drivers if you’re sharing the road.
- Yoga can be a phenomenal way to limber up (great for delivering a baby!) and relax. A yoga body is strong and sleek, and yoga can definitely help you deal with the stress of infertility. Whether you practice yoga at home, or work out in a studio, don’t push your body too far. Also, Bikram (hot yoga) may not be advised. Consult your doctor.
- Pilates is another beneficial way to stay healthy and improve your fertility. Pilates is relaxing, while still offering a challenge.
- Swimming for exercise is one if the best ways to work out when you’re TTC. You can get a thorough cardio workout without putting too much stress on your joints. Swimming for fitness allows you to set the pace that’s most comfortable and build on it. This is an excellent choice for those just starting a fitness routine.
Always listen to your body, and stay hydrated. You never want to put yourself at risk for a fall, or injury, and remember you could become pregnant at any time, so go easy if you aren’t into regular exercise.
For those who run marathons regularly, you may need to table your training for just a bit. Intense, long-distance running can interfere with ovulation from time to time so it’s best to postpone any marathon training for the time being.
Cross-Fit, Weight Training, and IVF
Strenuous exercise-going hard for 4 or more hours per week-can reduce your IVF success rates, and impact your fertility. Very intense weight training, and lifting-centered activities are considered strenuous. If this is your preferred form of exercise, and you’ve been doing it awhile, you may consult your physician. Taking a short break and switching to another form of workout, or scaling back on your intensity may be a good idea while you’re TTC, or undergoing IVF.
Exercise Can Empower
When you’ve been attempting to become pregnant, to no avail, you may feel as though your body is beyond your control. Moderate exercise, in this case, can be very empowering in alleviating the stress of infertility. When you combine regular (more than 1 hour per week, less than 5) workouts with a healthy diet you’re taking control of your body and ensuring your future child a healthy, happy parent.