One needs to maintain the healthy weight as it reduces the risk of infertility and also improves the chance of conceiving spontaneously and with assisted reproductive technology (ART). Exercise is indeed a key component of managing weight.
Why exercise to improve fertility?
One requires at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, gardening or dancing, on most and preferably all days of the week. If possible, some vigorous activity, such as running, fast cycling or fast swimming, should also be performed every week.
For men and women who are overweight and also obese, exercise can help maintain weight or achieve a modest weight loss which does improve general health and fertility. As part of weight management, guidelines do recommend that overweight or obese adults need to perform 225 to 300 minutes moderate-intensity based exercise every week (about 35 to 45 minutes per day).
How can exercise improve fertility and ART outcomes?
Moderate regular exercise can indeed improve one’s fertility and the chance of having a baby with ART. Studies of the effects of the exercise on fertility have rather found that vigorous exercise does reduce the risk of ovulation problems and that moderate exercise does decrease the risk of miscarriage and increases the chance of having a baby among women who undergo ART.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is indeed a complex condition which is associated with infertility. Women with PCOS often do have irregular or no periods as they ovulate. For overweight and obese women with PCOS regular exercise can indeed increase the frequency of ovulation which does lead to more regular menstrual cycles. As ovulation does become more frequent, the chance of conceiving increases.
Studies do indicate that exercise does boost female fertility and therefore it is important to go in for the large amount of high-intensity exercise that may actually reduce fertility and the chance of having a baby with ART. So it is better to avoid very high-intensity exercise while trying for a baby.
Obesity in men can indeed reduce sperm quality as well as fertility. Regular moderate exercise can also help men to lose weight or stay in the healthy weight range and thereby improve sperm quality. But, a large amount of high-intensity exercise can be rather detrimental to sperm quality and one should avoid it in order to attain pregnancy.
How can exercise indeed improve the quality of life along with emotional well-being?
Studies do indicate that light or moderate intensity exercise improves quality of life and emotional wellbeing in healthy women and men. Among infertile women exercise, as part of a lifestyle improvement program, exercise reduces symptoms of anxiety as well as and depression and improved self-esteem. In women with PCOS exercise does improve health-related quality of life and reduced symptoms of depression and body image distress.
Finding time for exercise
Busy lives can indeed make it hard to find time for exercise. Incorporating exercise in one’s daily activities increases the chance of achieving the recommended physical activity goals.
Whenever possible, walking or cycling rather than driving, thus taking the stairs rather than the lift, and getting off a tram or bus a stop or two before one’s final destination and walking the rest of the distance will indeed help one get the exercise one requires for good health and optimal fertility.
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