How much is too much?
Women who exercise intensely may be more likely to over-exercise. Experts say that excessive exercise is linked to infertility. What defines excessive? Any activity that causes sleep disruption, injury, or is added on top of a daily workout could be considered excessive. Women may also want to avoid high-intensity exercises when trying to conceive. Some examples include running, high-intensity interval training, and heavy weightlifting.
What does exercise do to the body?
Often, women exercise to make sure that calories burned are higher than calories consumed. However, working off more than a person is eating can be harmful to fertility. When women over-exercise, the pituitary gland may not promote ovulation. Women could also experience missed periods or menstrual irregularities. The body perceives too much movement as added stress, inhibiting pregnancy.
The weight factor
While exercise is not always correlated to weight, some women struggle with both over-exercising and low BMI. A low body mass index (BMI) is defined as less than 18.5. Women with low BMIs have an increased risk of infertility. While being overweight or obese can also make conception difficult, carrying too much weight is more often associated with pregnancy complications than with an inability to conceive.
What should I do instead?
A moderate amount of exercise is good for overall health, and women should continue exercising when trying to conceive. Opt for activities of moderate intensity, like walking, swimming, cycling, dancing, Pilates, or yoga. Consistency is key. Aim for at least 30-60 minutes of exercise 3 times a week. If possible, try not to start any new activities when trying to conceive. If working out is new, start at a low intensity and work up to more moderate activity levels over time.
Other lifestyle changes
For optimal fertility, women should also follow a nutritious diet, avoid alcohol, and quit smoking. There have also been studies that show that stress management is an essential factor in improving fertility. Try to lower stress by practicing mindfulness, journaling, talking with a trusted loved one or seeking professional counseling.
The road to a healthy pregnancy
Exercise is a crucial part of health. Women who are trying to get pregnant should exercise at a moderate intensity level. For optimal health, aim to incorporate movement into a daily routine, such as taking walking breaks throughout the day or choosing the stairs. For more information about improving fertility, speak with a fertility specialist.
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