30th May 2024

Trying to conceive is a journey filled with excitement and anxiety for many couples. As you eagerly anticipate a positive pregnancy test, remember that now is the ideal time to prioritize your overall wellness. A well-rounded exercise routine is not just beneficial — it's crucial for setting the stage for a healthy pregnancy. In this guide, we'll explore the impact of exercise on fertility and highlight the best fertility exercises to enhance your fitness plan. Read on to discover how targeted physical activity can support your reproductive health and why incorporating these exercises can make a significant difference.

How Does Exercise Affect Fertility?

Scientific studies have shown that maintaining a consistent exercise routine1 can reduce the risk of infertility. This is particularly true for women who have been diagnosed with PCOS.2

Exercising regularly has a variety of overall health benefits. For example, it helps support your cardiovascular health and improves blood flow. Exercise also helps you maintain strength and flexibility and can even help you keep your stress levels in check. Being in good physical health is important for conception, which is why regular movement is so important. 

When you exercise to increase fertility, it’s best to stick to light to moderate workouts. This is because very intense exercise could negatively interfere with your menstrual cycle, which could make it more difficult to conceive. High-impact exercise can release stress hormones like cortisol, which can prevent ovulation3 when released in large quantities. 

Exercising can also help men who are trying to conceive with their partners. Men who are sedentary tend to have a lower sperm count4 and poor semen quality when compared to men who exercise regularly. As with women, men should stick to light to moderate exercise when trying to conceive. This is because very intense exercise can lead to decreased sperm concentration. 

Are There Exercises to Improve Fertility?

Many different exercises can help support fertility. Ultimately, the best exercise for fertility is something you enjoy. This will help you stay motivated to continue with your exercise routine. Participating in exercises you love can also help you manage stress, which is very important while trying to conceive. While stress alone doesn’t cause infertility, studies have found that high stress levels are associated with longer conception time.5

While it’s important to choose a workout you enjoy, your pre-pregnancy workout should not be so intense that it could cause your period to stop. While you don’t need to avoid any exercises specifically, you may need to make your workouts less intense. If you regularly participate in marathon running or extreme sports, talk to your doctor about your fertility workout options. They can help you put together a workout plan that supports your fertility goals and helps you stay healthy.

6 Best Exercises for Fertility

When choosing exercises to get pregnant, opt for activities that boost your heart rate and enhance blood circulation. Studies have found that follicular blood flow6 is correlated with higher pregnancy rates in women undergoing IVF, and decreased blood flow7 has been associated with infertility. By getting your blood flowing with exercise, you’re supporting essential circulation to your reproductive system. 

Cardiovascular exercises are also an excellent choice for pregnant women who are overweight and trying to conceive. This is because cardio workouts can help you lose weight when paired with a healthy diet. If you’re overweight or obese on the BMI scale, it can be helpful to lose some weight before trying to get pregnant. Studies have found that obesity is associated with infertility and challenges during pregnancy.8

As previously mentioned, it’s also helpful to choose exercises that help reduce your stress levels. While trying to conceive is very exciting, it can also be very stressful, so it’s important to keep those stress levels in check. While all exercise is good for reducing stress to some degree, choosing a workout you love is particularly helpful. 

Consider what type of workout motivates you. Some people enjoy exercising outside, while others prefer simple workouts to do at home. Some people like exercising in groups, while others prefer a solo workout — it’s all up to you and your preferences. 

Here are some of the most popular fertility exercises for people trying to conceive. 

1. Walking

Walking is an excellent form of exercise because it is so accessible. It’s an activity you can enjoy anywhere, and all you need is a good pair of supportive shoes. It’s something you can do with friends as a social activity,9 and it will also help you get outside10 and get some much-needed vitamin D — both factors that can help reduce stress. 

You can also easily adjust the workout to your needs. If you’re feeling tired, you can opt for a slow stroll through your neighborhood. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, you can try a longer hike and explore local nature preserves. It’s also a workout routine that you’ll likely be able to continue through pregnancy and even after you have your baby. 

Walking is also an excellent pre-pregnancy workout because it gets the blood flowing, but is also very low-impact. You’re highly unlikely to injure yourself walking, and there’s no risk of overtraining. 

2. Yoga

Yoga is another excellent exercise for fertility. This ancient practice remains popular today due to its physical and mental health benefits. Most forms of yoga are very gentle on the body, making this a good low-impact and low-intensity workout. You can also adjust the poses to make them easier or more challenging throughout the workout — most yoga teachers will provide multiple poses and flows for different ability levels. 

Moving through the poses in a yoga workout will help get your blood flowing. Some studios even offer fertility yoga classes, which feature poses designed to increase circulation to your reproductive system. Many yoga poses also help increase strength and flexibility, which can be very beneficial for labor and postpartum recovery.11

Yoga also has many mental health benefits. The breathing techniques used in yoga are designed to be very soothing and can calm you down when you’re feeling stressed. Many yoga classes also use very relaxing background music, which adds to the stress-relieving ambiance. 

3. Swimming 

Swimming makes a great pre-pregnancy workout because it supports good cardiovascular health without putting undue stress on your bones and muscles. Even a gentle swim will get your heart rate up and can help you burn calories. 

Swimming is a form of natural resistance training. You’ll strengthen your arms, legs, and core as you move through the water, and the lack of impact helps reduce the risk of injury. Many people also find that the experience of being in the water is relaxing and helps reduce stress. 

As with many other cardio exercises, men looking to conceive can also benefit from swimming. However, men should avoid using hot saunas as part of their swimming workout, as this can negatively affect sperm production.12

4. Cycling 

Gentle cycling is another excellent exercise to increase fertility in females. Like walking, it raises your heart rate, improves blood flow, burns calories, and provides a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. When cycling outside, be sure to choose safe routes to avoid potential collisions. Alternatively, you can opt for a stationary bike if you prefer exercising indoors."

Cycling can be slightly more intense than walking, so it’s a good option for those who want a greater challenge without overdoing it. To minimize impact, make sure that your bike is set properly for your height. 

While cycling is an excellent workout for women trying to conceive, men looking to conceive may want to avoid it. This is because cycling has been associated with a negative impact13 on male fertility. 

5. Pilates 

Pilates is another excellent form of exercise when preparing for conception. It has many of the same benefits as yoga — it helps with circulation and can also help you develop strength and flexibility. It is also a particularly good workout for strengthening the abdominal muscles.14

As with the other workouts on this list, pilates is very low-impact. Many exercises are done laying down on a mat or using a reformer machine. If you’ve been injured in the past, a Pilates workout tailored to your injury can help with recovery. 

6. Weight Training

Light weight training can be a good addition to your pre-pregnancy workout routine. Lifting weights can help you build full-body strength, and you can tailor your training to suit your needs and preferences. 

If you have a particularly heavy or intense weight lifting routine, talk to your doctor before trying to conceive. They can help you put together a routine to help you maintain strength without putting excess stress on your body.

Boost Your Fertility with FertilitySmart

If you aren't already exercising regularly, now is the perfect time to start incorporating workouts into your routine. Exercise is a vital component of a holistic fertility plan. Alongside physical activity, taking specially formulated supplements can further enhance your fertility and support reproductive health. FertilitySmart offers fertility supplements for women and male fertility supplements, each crafted with natural ingredients to promote good egg and sperm quality. Start your proactive journey with FertilitySmart today to boost your chances of fertility.

Citations

1 Xie, Fangfang, et al. “Association between Physical Activity and Infertility: A Comprehensive Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Translational Medicine, vol. 20, no. 1, (23 May 2022), https://translational-medicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12967-022-03426-3

2 Mussawar, Minhal, et al. “The Effect of Physical Activity on Fertility: A Mini-Review.” F&S Reports, vol. 4, no. 2, (1 June 2023), pp. 150–158, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666334123000442

3 Bheena Vyshali Karunyam, et al. “Infertility and Cortisol: A Systematic Review.” Frontiers in Endocrinology, vol. 14, (29 June 2023), www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10344356/

4 Jóźków, Paweł, and Marco Rossato. “The Impact of Intense Exercise on Semen Quality.” American Journal of Men’s Health, vol. 11, no. 3, (19 Sept. 2016), pp. 654–662, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5675222/

5 Lynch, C.D., et al. “Preconception Stress Increases the Risk of Infertility: Results from a Couple-Based Prospective Cohort Study—the LIFE Study.” Human Reproduction, vol. 29, no. 5, (May 2014), pp. 1067–1075, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3984126/

6 Kim, Ki Hyung, et al. “Follicular Blood Flow Is a Better Predictor of the Outcome of in Vitro Fertilization-Embryo Transfer than Follicular Fluid Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor and Nitric Oxide Concentrations.” Fertility and Sterility, vol. 82, no. 3, (1 Sept. 2004), pp. 586–592, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15374700/

7 Abdel Razik, Mohamed, et al. “Uterine and Ovarian Arteries Blood Flow during the Mid Luteal Phase in Women with Unexplained Infertility.” Middle East Fertility Society Journal, vol. 20, no. 3, (Sept. 2015), pp. 209–212. ScienceDirect, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1110569014000429

8Ozcan Dag, Zeynep, and Berna Dilbaz. “Impact of Obesity on Infertility in Women.” Journal of the Turkish German Gynecological Association, vol. 16, no. 2, (4 June 2015), pp. 111–117, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4456969/

9 Ozbay, Fatih, et al. “Social Support and Resilience to Stress: From Neurobiology to Clinical Practice.” Psychiatry (Edgmont), vol. 4, no. 5, (May 2007), pp. 35–40, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921311/.

10 Kondo, Michelle C., et al. “Does Spending Time Outdoors Reduce Stress? A Review of Real-Time Stress Response to Outdoor Environments.” Health & Place, vol. 51, no. 51, (May 2018), pp. 136–150, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29604546/

11 Ranjan, Piyush, et al. “Physical Activity, Yoga, and Exercise Prescription for Postpartum and Midlife Weight Management: A Practical Review for Clinicians.” The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology of India, (4 Mar. 2022), www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9008094/

12 Garolla, A., et al. “Seminal and Molecular Evidence That Sauna Exposure Affects Human Spermatogenesis.” Human Reproduction, vol. 28, no. 4, (14 Feb. 2013), pp. 877–885, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23411620/

13 Hajizadeh Maleki, Behzad, and Bakhtyar Tartibian. “Long-Term Low-To-Intensive Cycling Training: Impact on Semen Parameters and Seminal Cytokines.” Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: Official Journal of the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine, vol. 25, no. 6, (1 Nov. 2015), pp. 535–540, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24977955/.

14 Kloubec, June. “Pilates: How Does It Work and Who Needs It?” Muscles, Ligaments and Tendons Journal, vol. 1, no. 2, (29 Dec. 2011), pp. 61–6, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3666467/