It should come as no surprise that the lifestyle you lead can directly affect your fertility. A healthy one where regular exercise is routine, not only aids in successful conception but can also improve fertility parameters in both men and women (Vaamonte, 2012 & Wise, 2012) prior to fertility treatment.
A light and consistent exercise routine (think: maintainable and adjustable) is highly recommended. Since strenuous exercise can have a negative impact on achieving a successful pregnancy, pausing that Crossfit membership and suspending marathon training in lieu of more gentle aerobic activities is advisable. The idea here is to raise your heart rate, which increases blood flow and helps maintain a healthy calorie intake, without fully taxing your body. Here is a list of suggested exercises that do just that:
Walking – Brisk, 30-minute walks 5-6 times per week burn calories and increase blood flow without stressing the body too harshly.
Yoga & Tai Chi – Though this may look easy, but maintaining poses and using often-overlooked muscle groups will get your heart rate pumping and cause you to break a sweat.
Swimming – This whole body workout strengthens your core without placing too much stress on joints or bones. Keep an eye on your pace; your goal should be to maintain a comfortable rhythm for at least 20 minutes that leaves you feeling invigorated, not gasping for breath.
Dance – Dance is a fun and creative way to mix up your exercise routine. Stick to gentle styles like ballet or ballroom dancing in place of high-impact alternatives, like hip-hop or Zumba.
Other Light Cardio – Light elliptical workouts, easy bicycling, or slow jogging are all great ways to get your heart pumping. But keep your resistance and speed low; a good pace is one where you can still hold a full conversation during your workout.
An exception to the gentle exercise rule is made for women with a BMI over 29. Such an elevated BMI, in and of itself, has more negative effects on fertility than those caused by strenuous exercise. In those situations, fertility experts advise engaging in a challenging routine to lower body weight FIRST, prior to seeking fertility treatment and adopting a more gentle exercise regimen.
Regardless of what you think you might need, be sure to always discuss any exercise routines with your physician. Every patient is different and their needs are individual, so allow your IVF team to assess and tailor a plan unique to you.