How often do you hit the gym? A recent study published in Fertility and Sterility demonstrated that women that were active during the year leading up to their IVF procedure had higher pregnancy rates than women that were more sedentary.
It makes sense, right? Exercise beneficially affects stress modulation, hormonal regulation, sleep, energy levels, glucose tolerance, and blood circulation. All of these improve a woman’s chance of conceiving.
Nearly everyone knows that exercise is good for your health. But not everyone is aware of how much exercise is optimal for your fertility, and that more isn't actually always better. In a 2012 study that looked at more than 3,500 women, researchers found that for women with normal weight, vigorous physical activity actually decreased their chances of conception.
Being fit for fertility is all about balance. That balance is going to be a little different for every woman, so it's important to tune into your own body and find a routine that works for. Below are three guidelines for you to follow to become both fit and fertile:
Less is Really More
In our culture, we almost always assume more is better—and many women apply that to fitness as well, assuming that the fitter they get, the more fertile they’ll be.
Yet, these same women often struggle with exhaustion and fatigue. Their adrenal glands are burned out and they’re running on fumes most of the time. Many of the women I work with don’t have surplus energy to start with, so working out strenuously depletes the essential energy they need to make blood and nutrients for a healthy uterine lining, and ultimately to sustain a growing baby.
For many of you, the thought of exercising less probably seems crazy because it feels so necessary to manage your stress. You need that release of endorphins, right? I get it.
Balance is key; combine moderate exercise with more rest and you'll be even more resilient to stress. You won’t need that release of endorphins nearly as badly!
Replace Abs of Steel with long lean muscle
All of us want abs of steel. I know I do! But when you’re trying to conceive, a six-pack may not be the best look for you.
When we perform exercises that constrict our abdominal muscles, we also constrict the blood flow there, which is necessary for optimal uterine lining development. Compared to pilates and crunches, yoga and stretching elongate the femoral and uterine arteries, promoting blood flow to the uterus and ovaries.
We don’t want to grow our babies in steel cages. We want to give them a lush place to land, covered in a thick, velvety blanket of super high-quality blood to implant and grow in.
Stay Cool and Avoid heated Yoga
While we do need warmth to promote progesterone production and healthy reproduction, too much of a good thing starts to become hurtful—not helpful. Excessive sweating and exposure to high heat for long periods of time can really injure your fertility.
Think of your body fluids as motor oil — the fluids act as coolants and lubricants for your system. When there’s too much heat, the elevated temps dry out fluids (including super important cervical fluid) and raise basal body temperatures—a pattern typically seen in women closer to 40!
Remember: inducing sweating for long periods of time is a therapeutic intervention—not a lifestyle. Doing an occasional sauna can be helpful, but sweating it out at your heated yoga class five times a week will deplete your body over time.
Here’s my bottom line about exercise: Think of it as a means to keep your blood pumping and muscles flexible, but avoid slipping into an intense training mentality.
Again, exercise is all about balance, and that balance is going to be different for each individual woman. Focus on incorporating multiple shorter, less strenuous exercise sessions into your week—things like yoga and brisk walks are great options. Exercise should be pleasurable and leave you invigorated, not be a punishment that robs you of vital energy. Save your energy for growing babies!
To learn more about how Conceivable can help you tackle big problems like exercise, with little, tiny daily steps that can result in dramatic improvements for your fertility, just click below.