Staying fit and healthy during your journey to, and throughout, pregnancy is super important. But how fit is too fit? And what can we do to stay healthy if regular exercising is out of the question?

Despite the beliefs of many, exercising isn’t frowned upon if you’re trying to get pregnant, or even while you’re pregnant. Exercising is a crucial part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and managing weight, and it’s also been shown to improve rates of implantation, as well as reduce the risk of miscarriage.

However, some studies have suggested high-intensity workouts can alter hormone balance, disrupt ovulation and affect the menstrual cycle. Researchers at the University of North Carolina found that strenuous exercise increases cortisol levels while lowering thyroid hormones. Both high cortisol levels and low thyroid hormones have been linked to poor adrenal health, which impacts how the body handles stress, which in turn can negatively affect hormonal balance and fertility.

So low-impact, moderate exercise is the best way to stay healthy while you’re trying to conceive. Moderate exercise that we would recommend for women (roughly two to three times per week) who are trying for a baby include:  

  • Brisk walking (5 times a week)
  • Dancing
  • Aerobics
  • Light jogging – or even running – is an excellent way to keep healthy before pregnancy. Obviously, partaking in marathons isn’t really recommended, but getting your heart rate up a few times a week is a good way to keep fit without being a danger to your pregnancy plans.
  • Swimming – a low impact exercise that helps build muscle tone and improve cardiovascular activity. Swimming shouldn’t leave you feeling drained or gasping for breath – just enjoy and take it easy!
  • Yoga – an ideal exercise to partake in before, and during, pregnancy. It builds strength, endurance, tones muscle, and above all else, helps you relax. Trying to get pregnant can quickly become stressful, so taking time out to relax will help your conception efforts.

Why does being super fit hinder my chances of pregnancy?

Well, your body views exercise as a form of stress, which signals to the hypothalamus in the brain (the functions of which include the release and regulation of hormones around the body, including sex drive) it might not be a safe time for reproduction.

Are there any exercises I should avoid while trying to conceive?

Things like Bikram (hot) yoga, exercise more than seven times a week, running for many miles each day, boot camp or extreme fitness classes and core strength training after ovulation aren’t recommended while you’re trying to conceive.

Strike a balance

Too little exercise can have a negative impact on fertility, too. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, increasing your exercise to meet the recommended guidelines of 30 minutes of exercise per day can help lower stress levels and improve your metabolic rate – all of which help improve fertility.

Pay attention to your diet

Don’t forget, your fertility can be directly impacted by what you eat, so a healthy diet is essential for a healthy pregnancy. Here are a few tips for eating a diet that’ll ensure optimum health…

  • Eat more protein – this’ll improve your metabolic rate.
  • Healthy fats – avoid unhealthy fats, including trans fats and refined vegetable oils.
  • Grab a healthy breakfast – eggs are a good example, they’re high in protein and healthy fats.
  • Avoid sugary foods – they’re low in nutrients and contribute to overeating which can bring a plethora of problems and diseases.
  • Plenty of vegetables, healthy meat, and fish – try to eat fatty fish at least one to two times per week.

Do you know how you really need to take care of yourself if you’re trying to become pregnant? Test your knowledge with our quiz and access a free downloadable factsheet!

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Andrew Drakeley

Mr Andrew Drakeley is the Clinical Director at the Hewitt Fertility Centre, working principally at the Liverpool Women’s site but with managerial responsibility for Knutsford.

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