How much exercise is good for fertility?
Fertility doctor Phoenix area
With the coming of the new year, many people are making resolutions to live a healthier lifestyle. We always recommend to our patients that they make changes to improve their health as they’re trying to start their families. Many people include getting more exercise as part of their New Year’s resolutions. If you’re trying to conceive, will exercise help? How much should you exercise?
Too much exercise can impair fertility
Many people who start an exercise program choose a fairly intense workout schedule. We know that it’s tempting, when making a resolution, to go this route. However, if you’re trying to conceive or even considering it, it’s best not to go too intense. Vigorous physical activity has actually been shown to impair fertility. The more vigorous physical activity a woman performs, the less likely she is to conceive. (Moderate physical activity is a different story, as we’ll discuss below.) A woman of normal or low body weight is most likely to experience a decrease in her fertility resulting from vigorous exercise, but any woman who exercises too intensely could impair her ability to conceive.
Why is exercise potentially damaging to fertility? When you do a hard workout every day, you send a signal to your body that your current life situation is demanding. The body interprets this to mean that it isn’t a good time to have a baby right now, because you appear to be working very hard just to survive. Scientists believe that this is why fertility can be reduced by vigorous exercise.
Being completely sedentary can also impair fertility
Although too much exercise can reduce your chances of getting pregnant, this shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that no exercise at all would be better. In fact, those who are completely sedentary also decrease their chances of pregnancy. Women who go from being sedentary to exercising moderately can significantly improve their odds of conception. This is especially true for women who are overweight, but any woman can benefit from moderate exercise.
Women who are sedentary are far more likely to have problems like high blood pressure or poorly controlled blood sugar (pre-diabetes or even diabetes), which can impair fertility. For women who are overweight, exercise can help to manage weight. It also improves blood flow throughout the body. Exercise is also a great stress reliever, and stress can interfere with conception. It even boosts sex drive, which of course helps to improve the odds of a baby!
Each woman’s body reacts in its own way
Although it’s certainly the case that the right amount of exercise is important for fertility, it’s also important to remember that each woman’s body will react to exercise in its own way. If you’ve been running every day for years, then you may or may not need to change your workout routine in order to get pregnant. We do encourage our female patients to consider being gentler with their bodies while they try to get pregnant. However, some women can get pregnant even while training for a marathon, while others will need to reduce their exercise in order to achieve a pregnancy.
The most common recommendation is that women of normal or low body weight should aim for 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity, 6-7 days per week. Those who are overweight or obese should aim for slightly more, up to 45 minutes per day, 6-7 days per week. This extra bit of additional exercise can help you to lose weight, which in turn is beneficial for fertility. “Moderate” exercise involves brisk walking or a similar activity (dancing, yoga, swimming, and tai chi are all good options). You should be a little out of breath, but still able to speak in short sentences.
Do you need a fertility doctor Phoenix area?
If you’re hoping to conceive a child in this coming year, then you should consider adapting your lifestyle to be as supportive as possible of fertility. For those who have been trying for a few months without success, this could be the key that finally helps you to start your family.
If you’ve been trying for a year and still aren’t pregnant (or for six months if you’re 35 or older), then it’s time to talk to a fertility professional. Those looking for a fertility doctor in Phoenix, Tucson, or surrounding areas are invited to visit Dr. Scot Hutchison and his team at Reproductive Health Center. We’re an award-winning fertility clinic, offering the best in technology as well as compassionate support in optimizing your lifestyle. Please contact our office to schedule your appointment.