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Why Not Exercising May Be Making You Less Fertile

Why Not Exercising May Be Making You Less Fertile Exercising: How much is too much? How much is not enough? There are fertility risks on both sides of the exercise spectrum, too much and too little. We are going to focus, in this article, on how adding exercise into our routine will help you become more fertile and finally conceive the child you are trying so hard to bring into this world. We know exercising is amazing for our minds and bodies, but many of us do not have a regular exercise routine. If you are looking to become pregnant or are pregnant, you may be wondering if exercise is going to help you our hurt you. Although it is difficult to get too much exercise, it is possible. Unless you are doing a highly intense training routine and/or competing in professional sports, exercise is going to be improving your fertility.

Why Are You Not Exercising?

Exercise is like not smoking; you know you should be doing it! No matter who you are or what limitations your body puts on you, it is possible to incorporate some form of exercise into your daily life. If you are not exercising right now, stop and take a deep breath, it’s ok. It’s ok to start as slow as you want. You can begin by setting the smallest goal you could honestly commit to every day. It could be going for a walk around the block, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, signing up in a league to play your favorite sport a couple times a week, or just putting on workout clothes than deciding if you really want to work out or not. Each day you commit to put on your workout clothes or do any amount of exercise, you are building the habit into your lifestyle. You need to think long term while integrating exercise into your lifestyle. It’s easy to get caught up for a couple weeks or months in an exercise routine then fall back into not exercising for years to come. So why not commit to just 15 minutes per day. That’s easy, right? Once you create an exercise habit for yourself, exercising will be natural and something you look forward to instead of dreading. You will just do it without thinking about it and it will make you feel great!

How Not Exercising May Be Making You Less Fertile

If you are not getting any physical activity and are having trouble becoming pregnant, beginning to exercise might be the single most important thing you do to improve your fertility (and most cost effective). In 1998, scientists put 67 anovulatory (ovaries are not releasing an egg during the menstruation cycle) and obese women through a 6-month exercise program to study the effect of exercise on fertility. Their results were astounding! The researchers concluded that exercise is a highly feasible way to improve all aspects of fertility in obese women. Below is a summary of the studies results:
  • 60 of the 67 women resumed a regular and healthy menstrual cycle
  • 52 women fell pregnant -- 18 spontaneously and 45 women gave a live birth
  • Before beginning an exercise and diet routine the women participating in the study had a miscarriage rate of 75%. After the study these women had a miscarriage rate of 18%.
    • 57% reduction in miscarriage rate after 6 months of regular exercise!
  • The previous cost of the 67 participating women to have two live births was $550,000 ($270,000 per birth). After completing the study these women were able to have 45 live births with a cost of $210,000 ($4600 per birth)
    • Cost savings of $265,400 per birth!
  • Improvements in mental health
    • Improved self-esteem
    • Reduction in depression score
    • Less anxiety

Take Home Message

This study looks at a subpopulation of women who are obese, which is not the case for everyone that is out of shape, but highlights how great adopting a regular exercise routine can be for improving fertility. If you are out of shape and having a hard time becoming pregnant, it might be best to first invest in adopting a healthier lifestyle through diet and exercise instead of immediately turning to expensive medical treatments. The women in this study had their cost of having a successful live birth drop from $550,000 to $4600 (almost a 12,000% reduction in cost!), and their miscarriage rate drop by 57%. Keep in mind that exercise is only a piece of the fertility puzzle. Many factors could be at play and you will be better off with professional fertility guidance in other important areas that affect your fertility (MTHFR gene mutations, personalized nutrition plan, individualized supplementation strategies, lifestyle guidance, detoxification etc…).
1. Clark, A. M., Thornley, B., Tomlinson, L., Galletley, C., & Norman, R. J. (1998). Weight loss in obese infertile women results in improvement in reproductive outcome for all forms of fertility treatment. Human Reproduction, 13(6), 1502-1505. Olive, D. L. (2010). Exercise and fertility: an update. Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 22(4), 259-263.
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