Expert Fitness Instructor and Co-Founder of myMindBodyBaby Lyndsey Clabby, explains why and how exercise can help support and increase fertility. She provides fertility help on how to keep moving, and get our bodies into the best shape possible for natural and assisted fertility and pregnancy.
Over to Lyndsey…
www.mymindbodybaby.com | @mymindbodybaby
Can Exercising Support Your Fertility?
Good news for all those trying to conceive and those who love a good sweat session – research in fertility and sterility has shown moderate exercise may help increase your chances of getting pregnant. For those who aren’t such fans of exercise, there are options for gently incorporating movement into your life.
If you’re in the ‘I don’t like to exercise’ camp, know that exercise is not restricted to the gym. Nor does it have to be a big ordeal every day. There are lots of ways to get in those 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day. A 15 minute walk at lunch and you’re half-way there! For a super easy do-anywhere, free workout click here.
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What Exactly Does ‘Moderate Exercise’ Mean?
Moderate exercise is the ‘talk but not sing’ level of intensity. So it should be vigorous enough that you can’t break out in song – but also at a level where you can speak in short sentences to your workout partner. The guidelines for such activity are 20-30 minutes, 5-6 days a week.
Almost every day? That is just not possible.
If you’re currently not exercising, working up to 5-6 days may seem impossible. But it doesn’t have to be! There are lots of ways to fit in exercise throughout your week.
The easiest way is to walk! It’s free, you can do it anywhere and you just need appropriate footwear. Have a dog? Even better! Add a few extra streets to Rover’s daily walk. Or how about suggesting a walking date with your friend you normally sit down for a coffee with? Looking for ways to spend time with your male partner? May we suggest a romantic walk? If he needs convincing, show him this study in the journal Reproduction, explaining that sperm quality is linked to maintaining a healthy weight, so joining you for a brisk walk not only gives him precious time with you but can also benefit your TTC goals.
The next suggestion is going to make some of you wince. But once you get into the routine you will feel more optimistic and energized throughout your day: set your alarm clock 20-30 minutes earlier, have your workout gear set out the night before and do a simple at-home workout. For those lucky enough to have gym facilities at work, try scheduling a workout or two throughout the week, like you do meetings. Not only are you fitting in a little more movement – but you’re likely to feel more energized to tackle your work to-do list too!
Still need convincing?
Studies now show that moderate exercise can help improve reproductive function. On the other hand, intense, vigorous activity may delay the time it takes to conceive.
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If Exercise is Good, Why isn’t More Even Better?
Well first, let’s take a look at why exercise can help support your fertility:
1. Fat and Ovulation – While some research considers Body Mass Index (BMI), this measurement doesn’t take into account body composition (did you know fat weighs less than muscle?). Body composition is a better measure. Body fat levels that are too low (under 12%) or too high (over 30-35%) have been linked to impaired ovulation. One way to manage body fat – moderate exercise! Moderation being the key – extreme exercise can actually lower progesterone which can have a negative effect on time to conceive.
If your body fat levels are too low you could try upping your calorie intake and cutting back on high intensity exercise. On the other hand, if your body fat levels are 30% or higher, try evaluating where you can cut out some empty calories and slowly build up your exercise frequency and duration.
2. Manage Stress – A certain level of stress is hard to avoid. Everyone has some stress, but high levels of continuous stress have been linked to lower fertility rates. We know this can be frustrating if you are struggling to conceive. You are stressed about trying to get pregnant while at the same time being told to reduce your stress. Mindfulness techniques like positive visualizations, positive mantra and meditation are great options for reducing stress. And of course, while we are on the topic of fitness and fertility – exercise is a great stress reliever as well. Here is an easy fertility friendly, stress-relieving yoga flow you can try.
3. Benefit Metabolism and Circulation – Exercise has been shown to benefit egg health and promote healthy, oxygenated blood flow to the uterus. It also helps support a healthy metabolism.
4. Reduce Inflammation – You’ve probably read a lot about inflammation lately. It’s a hot topic in the health and fertility world. In fact, some inflammation is necessary for normal cellular function when it comes to fertility. When new cells are made (which happens every single day in your body), there is some inflammation. Currently on your period? Inflammation.
However, excessive inflammation is not good. In fact, there are a number of fertility issues associated with chronic inflammation (PCOS, endometriosis and fibroids to name a few). What is the link to exercise? ScienceDirect reports researchers have found that even 20 minutes of exercise can have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body.
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Have We Convinced You Yet?
If you need a little more proof to convince you to throw on your running shoes, Diabetes Canada reports between 3-20% of women develop gestational diabetes (GD). Once you become pregnant, you will have to take a gestational diabetes test at around 25 weeks into your pregnancy. Guess what can help reduce the risk of GD? You guessed it – exercise! Research has shown the risk of GD can be reduced with exercise and maintain fitness levels.
If you’re ready, start adding a little more movement into your life. We have a simple 20 minute workout you can do anywhere:
20 Minute Workout
3 Minute Warm Up – This is to get your blood pumping and you can choose whatever you like – dance around, squat it out, mix up some jumping jacks, running on the spot.
Repeat this circuit twice –
Lunge with Overhead Reach (10 each side)
10 Jumping Jacks (or step jacks) with 10 plié squats – 15s rest, then repeat
5 Push Ups (toes or on knees) with 5 Plank to T – 15s rest, then repeat
Sumo Squat with Front Kicks (10 total) – 15s rest, then repeat
Fast Feet for 30s
Air Skipping 30s
Right Side Plank with Hip Dips 30s – repeat on left
Bicycle Crunches 30s
Cool Down – 1 minute of your fave cool down moves – try step touch, side taps and reach, walking, grooving
Stretch – 2 minutes (need some stretches? Check these out!)
Related Article – Meditation for Fertility: Dealing with Anxiety and Uncertainty on your Fertility Journey
Exclusive FHH Offer
So, if you’re someone looking for more – more control, more support, more information on how to improve your fitness, nutrition and mental well-being, then feel free to use code fertilityHelpHub25 to receive this special offer of 25% off any of our programs.