In this post, I get to combine two of my favorite things to talk about: exercise and fertility! Before I became a mom and decided to pursue fertility coaching, I was a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. I taught indoor cycling, kick boxing, Pilates, and strength/toning classes. I love to play tennis, run, lift weights, and just generally be moving. But I know that most people don’t love and crave movement and exercise like I do. ;)
That’s ok. You absolutely do not have to be a fitness wack-o to reap all the excellent fertility benefits that exercise provides. (In fact, we’ll also talk about why too much exercise can be bad for fertility.)
But some form of regular exercise is so, so good for your fertility.
1. Helps balance fertility hormones.
2. Helps you sleep.
3. Helps blood flow to your reproductive system.
4. Relieves stress and makes you feel good.
Exercise Helps Balance Your Fertility Hormones
When we think about the hormones that play a role in fertility, most of us think of estrogen and progesterone. They are important, but there are other hormones that come into play like insulin, cortisol, epinephrine/adrenaline. Dysregulation or excessive amounts of these hormones tend to have a negative impact on fertility. But exercise can keep them in check.
Exercise Helps You Sleep
There is plenty of research showing that exercise not only helps you fall asleep faster, but also helps you get a better night’s sleep. And sleep is critical for fertility. Sleep is when your body rests and repairs itself. It is also when your body produces estrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone. With good sleep comes well-balanced hormones.
Exercise Helps Blood Flow to Your Reproductive System
Exercise gets your blood moving. All around your body. And that includes your uterus and ovaries. In addition, because exercise reduces stress (see below), it helps keep your blood flowing to these body parts even after you’ve finished your workout.
Exercise Relieves Stress and Makes You Feel Good
Whether you’ve experienced a “runner’s high” or just heard talk of it, I’m here to tell you it’s a real thing. It’s caused when the brain releases endorphins, or feel-good hormones, in response to exercise. Because exercise produces endorphins and plays a large part in regulating our big stress hormone, cortisol, exercise has an amazing ability to boost your mood and help you relax. Aren’t these two of the hardest things to accomplish when you’re dealing with infertility?!
So what exercises are best for improving fertility?
The answer that I usually give people is, “Whatever kind of exercise you enjoy doing!”
For some that might mean running, for others it might mean walking around the house straightening up, vacuuming and mopping. You have quite a bit of flexibility in how you choose to exercise, but I would offer these guidelines:
1. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
2. Be sure that you enjoy whatever it is you choose. The last thing you need to be
doing right now is an activity that feels like a punishment!
3. Change it up from time to time. Are you a walker? Great, just be sure to try some
different routes from time to time. Do you take a lot of Zumba classes? Wonderful,
but throw in a yoga class every once in a while. I think you see what I mean.
Too Much Exercise Can Be Bad For Your Fertility
Now that I’ve spent so much time telling you all the ways that exercise is great for your fertility, I have to include one small caveat. Women who always or most often exercise at a very high intensity can sometimes harm their fertility. Very frequent, intense exercise can trigger your body’s stress response—excess cortisol, diminished blood flow to non-essential organs (like the reproductive system)—and throw your hormones out of whack leading to ovulatory and other problems. If you think you might fall into this category, the solution is simple: ease up a bit. It will take some time for your body to recalibrate, but it will.
If you're ready to take a different approach to your fertility so that you can maximize your chances of getting pregnant, let's chat! I'd love to help you take the next positive step on your fertility journey.