Improve your fitness

Most of us aren’t as fit as we should be and pulling your exercise levels up will definitely help your overall wellbeing. When it comes to conception, it’s only a big issue if you’re seriously overweight.

Do my fitness levels really affect my fertility?

You can’t exercise your ovaries into success: but yes, fitness does matter overall when you’re trying for a baby. The most important thing is to keep your weight within the recommended Body Mass Index levels (that would be around 25 maximum) to maximise your chances of conception – the research does show that women who are significantly overweight can have fertility problems, because their weight has disrupted their hormones. You probably won’t lose huge amounts of weight through exercise alone but it’s a key player in any weight loss programme especially if you want to keep the weight off long-term.

For another thing, it’s worth getting into a decent condition before starting nine months that take their toll on your body. Exercise is also very good for your mental well-being – all the mental health organisations recommend it – and again, although you can’t relax your way to a successful conception, it makes sense to reduce your overall stress levels as early as possible.

How much exercise ought I to be getting?

Probably more than you are. Given the chance, most of us seriously overestimate the amount of exercise we’re doing. The general recommendations from  experts are around 30 minutes’ moderate to intense activity – like fast walking or cycling – five times a week. You don’t have to do the full 30 minutes in one go (two 15-minute power walks to and from work will count) but you do have to do it to a level that gets you slightly out of breath.

What about the opposite – can I be too keen on exercise?

There’s been some research that suggests that women who do a lot of high-impact, high-intensity exercise to the point where they’re exhausted, several times a week, have fertility problems – but we don’t know if it’s actually the exercise to blame, or other things like their diet. Certainly if you’re dieting and exercising to the point where your periods stop, you’ve got obvious problems. But if you’re already used to doing a reasonable amount of exercise, don’t worry yourself unduly. You’re almost certainly doing the best thing for your body.

And how will this pan out for my pregnancy?

Sadly, there’s no guarantee that exercise will help you in labour – but it certainly ought to help you get through the months leading up to it, as well as helping to keep your weight from ballooning out too far. And it should also help you fit your post-baby body back into your jeans, when the time comes.