Exercise and physical activity during your fertility journey: what can you do and what should you avoid?

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Exercise and physical activity during your fertility journey: what can you do and what should you avoid?

running-exercise inFertile Life

running-exercise inFertile Life

Exercise and physical activity during your fertility journey: what can you do and what should you avoid?

Research seems to show an association between weight and fertility. That can be due to several reasons:

  • Women who are underweight can stop menstruating altogether or have difficulty maintaining a pregnancy.
  • Women who are overweight often have hormonal and ovulation problems which make conceiving difficulty.
  • Men who are overweight have worse sperm quality than men with normal weight. It’s related to obesity lowering testosterone levels and increasing the risk of erectile dysfunction.
    running-exercise inFertile Life

    Photo by Jonathan Colon at https://skatesphere.com/

Let’s look at the data of different studies:

  • In a study with 26,955 women it was identified that vigorous activity was associated with reduced risk of ovulatory infertility
  • A minimum of one hour exercise three times a week improved rates of implantation and pregnancy and reduced the risk of miscarriage in 436 women undergoing ICSI
  • Low to moderate exercise was also associated with increased implantation and love birth rates in 131 women undergoing assisted reproduction techniques
  • High intensity exercise regimens appear to reduce fertility
  • Subfertility is associated with vigorous (exercising daily or to exhaustion) but not with lower intensity or lower frequency exercise
  • In women with PCOS, compared to diet alone or no treatment, exercise improved menstrual function and/or ovulation frequency
  • Men who practice high intensity exercise also appear to have reduced fertility, compared to moderate exercise
  • Cycling five or more hours per week has also been associated with reduced sperm concentration and motility

The NHS takes into consideration the results of these studies and recommends that maintaining an optimum weight is good for fertility. Moderate exercising (rather than excessive, exhausting workouts) is also likely to be the most appropriate type of activity. Combined with a healthy diet, you’ll be in the right path!

What is your fertility zone for weight?

Alongside healthy nutrition and hydration, physical activity will help you move towards your fertility zone for weight.  The best range for fertility is a body-mass index (BMI) of 20 to 24.

BMI Chart - inFertile Life

BMI Chart – inFertile Life

Infertility is least common in women with BMI’s of 20-24.

For women and men who struggle with being overweight, research indicates that a weight loss of as little as 5%-10% of current weight can dramatically improve ovulation and pregnancy rates.

Research shows that exercise also has an effect on quality of life and emotional well-being!

  • 3-6 months of light or moderate intensity exercise improved quality of life related to physical health and psychological health compared to no exercise.
  • In infertile women with or without PCOS undergoing a six month lifestyle intervention (diet, exercise and behavioural intervention) prior to assisted reproduction, improvements in self-esteem and symptoms of depression and anxiety were observed.
  • In women with PCOS, depression scores and body image distress decreased and health-related quality of life improved following 20-24 weeks of exercise ranging from a self-directed walking program to a structured supervised diet, aerobic and resistance exercise intervention.

What physical activity is best for fertility?

Physical activity that you can engage in is for example:

  • 30 minutes walks
  • Yoga
  • Dancing
  • Leisure bike riding
  • Aerobics
  • Jogging
  • Swimming

Physical activity that you should avoid:

  • Hot yoga
  • Boot-camp training
  • Extreme running
  • Any type of vigorous or strenuous training

For women going through medical fertility treatments, doctors often suggest that their patients avoid exercise.  Light exercise and keeping active is always beneficial though.

So if you are receiving treatment by a fertility doctor, clarify with him/her what exercise you should avoid.

If you need support of a coach to make changes in your physical activity or diet habits, you can book a free consultation here.

You can also learn more other things you can do to improve the quality of your eggs and sperm. Don’t miss the opportunity and get advice from our specialist nurse here.

Andreia Trigo

Fertility Nurse | NLP Coach of 2017 | TEDX Speaker

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