Exercise and eat right. We've heard it all our lives. But when it comes to having a baby, more and more studies are showing exercise can play a key role. However, they have also shown that the amount a person should exercise in order to have an impact on fertility is extremely individual; some women can work out strenuously and get pregnant easily, while for others the same level of exertion can stall the process.
How Much Should I Exercise?
According to a study in Obstetrics & Gynecology, exercise improves metabolism and circulation, both of which provide for better egg production. Additionally, it showed that regular activity also optimizes the reproductive system by stimulating the endocrine glands, which secrete the hormones that help eggs grow. This study also revealed that women who exercised 30 minutes daily had a reduced risk of infertility due to ovulation disorders.
In the medical community, the default stance is that "normal-weight" women should work out about 150 minutes weekly. That translates to 30 minutes five days a week of "moderately-intense" activity (you break a sweat and are winded, but can still speak in short phrases).
But what if you aren't "average"? Remember when I mentioned above that the amount a person should exercise is extremely individual? Well - this is one of the reasons why. Women come in all shapes and sizes and the amount of exercise that is appropriate for each woman varies. Some women can do a 3 hour workout every single day and have no problem getting pregnant, while others may exercise only an hour a day, three times a week, and negatively impact their ability to get pregnant.
Too Much Exercise
Both a 2009 study in Human Reproduction and a Harvard study of elite athletes found that too much vigorous exercise can be linked to lowered fertility. These studies and others have shown that more than an hour of vigorous exercise a day can cause the ovaries to become underactive and stop producing eggs and estrogen in some women -- that for normal-weight women in particular, intense exercise appears to increase the time to conception by as much as 42%!
Furthermore, because exercise causes the body to produce endorphins, too much can have a negative impact in this area as well. These endorphins, although they make you feel great, also increase levels of prolactin. An increase in prolactin can decrease the possibility of pregnancy. And as if that wasn't enough, intense exercise sessions also cause the body to break down the proteins in muscles, producing ammonia, a pregnancy-inhibiting chemical.
So how do you know when enough becomes too much? There are some classic symptoms that every woman should be aware of when it comes to her exercise routine and fertility. If you experience menstrual irregularities, unexplained loss of weight, elevated blood pressure, slower heart rate recovery, excessive muscle fatigue, decreased immunity, gastrointestinal disturbances, and/or loss of appetite you probably need to scale back on your exercise regimen and consult your doctor and/or trainer.
If you've been doing everything else right and still can't conceive - it may be time to look at your exercise regimen. Moderate physical activity has been found to benefit women of all body types; however exercise extremes are never good. Your body functions optimally when you can find a balance between too much and too little.
Yoga is one of the best types of exercise to do for your fertility. Our unique AM/PM Fertility Yoga Series allows you to practice yoga in the comfort of your own home!
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Sarah Clark empowers couples to discover how lifestyle and diet can dramatically impact their chances of conceiving. She was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure at 28 and had both her kids with donor eggs. Not until years later did she discover that the root cause of her infertility was a food intolerance. Join the Free Fab Fertile Support Group on Facebook for mini-challenges, motivation and inspiration!