Get Moving- Exercise & Infertility
What to do and how to start.
By Dr. Spence Pentland, Dr. TCM, FABORM, CAOOM, author of BEING FERTILE
Locations in Vancouver & Kelowna
“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” ~Henry David Thoreau
Definition of exercise: any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness. It is performed for various reasons including strengthening muscles and the cardiovascular system, honing athletic skills, weight loss or maintenance, as well as for the purpose of enjoyment.
Some people hear the word exercise and wince, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Like diet, different exercise plans work for different people and the key to finding what is right for you is that it be something you enjoy.
Finding something you like to do that also happens to be exercise should not be a problem. There are as many choices these days as there are types of people. What about a Zumba class? Or kickboxing? Martial Arts? Pole dancing? Rock climbing? A team sport like volleyball or soccer maybe? You could go kayaking or take a surf trip or try fencing if you’re feeling adventurous.
There are no limits to the possibilities for fun with fitness and the benefits of exercise are no secret. Expect to lower your body fat, increase energy and muscle mass, reduce stress, improve your circulation, better sleep, lower blood pressure and feel an overall sense of well-being and confidence. And let’s not forget the most important benefit of all - with increased health comes increased fertility. So if you’re serious about starting a family, some form of exercise is a must.
The goal is to maintain a healthy body weight and steer away from being too thin or keeping up with an exercise regime that may be too strenuous. If your body is repairing muscles that are being used excessively, it will have less energy to devote to reproductive health.
If your weight is too low or too high, it can affect hormonal balance and ovulation. Women that are underweight will often have a lack of estrogen which can cause menstruation to be irregular or cease altogether, so in spite of the cultural messages we see portrayed in magazines nowadays, there is such a thing as too thin.
If you find yourself overweight due to a lack of exercise but you’re not sure where to start, take a walk. Aerobic, HIIT, and resistance exercise is key for weight loss and is considered anything that involves performing continuous movements, in your specific aerobic target heart range, with large muscle groups such as your legs, for 20 minutes or more. Cycling, swimming, rowing, walking, dancing or jogging are just a few examples of aerobic exercise. Low-intensity sessions that last at least 30-45 minutes are ideal for weight loss.
There’s no need for a gym membership or athletic prowess, something super simple to get your heart pumping and increase circulation. After recently moving to Kelowna I met Chelsea and Mel of http://HIITit.ca, and I believe what they have created is a perfect exercise resource for almost everyone trying to get pregnant. Their 12 minute daily workouts are super easy, require no equipment, and fit into even the most busy schedule. It is a growing belief of many exercise experts, that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the fastest and most effective path to your desired fitness results. So I now recommend HIITit.ca to all my infertility patients; the high intensity workouts in the follicular phase of their menstrual cycle (day 1-ovulation) and the low intensity workouts post ovulation, as these are safer during early pregnancy.
In conjunction with addressing physical activity, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) emphasizes the importance of cultivating willpower to overcome conditions such as overeating, melancholy, laziness, and obesity. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine supplement the systems necessary for being proactive in one’s life and making healthy choices for mind and body. With time, discipline and simple small commitments, the trajectory of your entire life can change. A healthy life is a fulfilling life, everyone deserves that.
Most importantly, we now know that the health of the mother and father before getting pregnant largely determines the health that the child-to-be will experience throughout their lifetime. So, the most important job of being a parent happens before conception occurs.
Start today - Get moving!
A Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and a Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine, author of ‘Being Fertile’ and creator of The Being Fertile Program, Dr. Spence Pentland has been treating fertility issues exclusively since 2004. His Vancouver & Kelowna clinics, Yinstill Reproductive Wellness aids couples in realizing their dreams of healthy families.