If you're trying to get pregnant, you probably know that it's important to keep track of your cycle and know when you ovulate. It's also no secret that being healthy and active plays a crucial part in boosting your fertility, but did you know that too much exercise can actually lower your chances of conceiving?
If you enjoy exercise and are trying to conceive, you don't necessarily have to stop. Above all, talk to your doctor about what makes the most sense for your body.
Here are tips to keep your exercise routine going without hurting your fertility:
1. Watch out for anemia.
Blood is the essential substance of pregnancy, and as a woman, you use lots of the stuff—especially if you work out. Your muscles are fed by blood, and heavy exercise routines can deplete your body and leave you feeling exhausted. This, in turn, can result in poor egg health, which can then inhibit pregnancy.
So watch out for symptoms of anemia:
- Shortness of breath
- Fast heart rate
- Cold limbs
Talk to your provider if you are concerned, and ask about the possibility of testing and iron supplements.
2. Limit your workouts to one hour or less.
Workouts should leave you feeling energized, not exhausted. If you work out for too long, your body may end up going into a fight or flight mode that can then activate stress hormones and cause imbalances in your sex hormones. This can make it more difficult to conceive. Thankfully, there's an easy fix: keep a little energy to yourself instead of leaving it all on the gym or yoga floor.
3. Maintain a healthy weight.
Weighing too much can cause hormonal imbalances and problems with ovulation. So if you are overweight and are planning to get pregnant, you can up your chances by committing to a healthy eating and regular exercise plan. That said, being underweight and not having enough fat cells can also contribute to infertility by hindering your body's ability to produce estrogen—which is a hormone that is essential for ovulation.
Regular weight fluctuations aside, try to keep a balanced weight by following a diet full of foods that are healthful and that you love. To figure out what your ideal, 'normal' weight is and help you maintaining it, you can refer to your body mass index and make sure it falls within what's considered normal (18.5 and 24.9).
4. Favor moderate workouts.
Heavy weights have an impact on the endocrine system and can influence the hormones responsible for a healthy menstrual cycle. So if you are trying to conceive and want to keep a regular cycle, keep your workouts to moderate levels, especially if they are high in intensity. you may want to take things slow and keep things light.
5. Run with moderation.
Most fertility doctors recommend low impact cardiovascular exercise, like that of an elliptical machine. But running is actually a great way to stay in shape and prepare your body for pregnancy, and there's really no reason to stop running if you already do (as long as your provider as given you the green light, of course). That said, if you've tried to get pregnant for a while or are experiencing irregular menstrual cycles—two indications that your running habits may be disrupting your endocrine system—your provider may recommend that you cut back.
Don't worry, though. Cutting back just a few miles, paired with eating more healthy fats, can go a long way in jumpstarting your cycle. Further, if you find yourself feeling tired during a run, walking is another great way to stay energized and prepare your body for the beautiful journey that is pregnancy.