The benefits of physical activity have long been known to help with all kinds of health-related issues—from healthy hearts to cancer prevention. It turns out that exercise in the form of a simple walk may help with fertility too.

A study done by the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst looked at the effects of exercise for women trying to conceive, who previously had one or two pregnancy losses.

They found that the only type of physical activity that increased the likelihood of pregnancy in their study, especially for overweight women, was walking.

The study revealed that it's possible the intensity of the walking played a part in improving fertility—more vigorous activity was associated with better outcomes than minimal or moderate activity. As of now, it remains unknown as to why though.


What is important about these findings is that it can help women feel empowered about their journey towards becoming pregnant. So often women struggling infertility report feeling a lack of control—while this isn't the only solution, it is certainly a start.

"Lifestyle is definitely relevant to these outcomes because it can have an effect at the molecular level. What we eat and what we do are potential factors we can change to shape our health. So this sort of research is important because it helps provide information on the things people can actually do something about," says Researcher Brian Whitcomb.

So what does this mean for you?

Unfortunately, this study alone isn't enough to make a blanket statement about exercise for conception. Other researchers have noted that exercise and weight loss can improve conception rates for overweight women, but too much exercise can harm fertility. In the words of one large overview study, Sharma and colleagues wrote, "Exercise is suggested to be beneficial, though too much may be detrimental."

And, so often fertility is a multifaceted issue. Factors such as diet, the environment, genetics and other health concerns can all attribute to someone's ability to get and stay pregnant.

And hey—woman to woman, I understand that this is frustrating.

It's really hard to want something so strongly, and not have a definite way to make it happen. Figuring out that line of how much is too little and how much is too much is exhausting.

Honestly, sometimes I think studies like this help us to see that you're not doing it wrong, sometimes it's just that hard. There is no simple solution. But there is hope.

Talk to your health care provider about these findings to see if they might be helpful for you. And remember: You're not alone. You've got this.

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."

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