Physical activity

The science

We are now more than half way through the programme – congratulations on sticking to the programme so far!

We have now guided you through all main dietary changes for your fertility health – the remainder of the programme will now focus on helping you create and stick to a healthy lifestyle. In the spirit of moving through the programme, this week we are looking at the importance of moving and exercising!

Exercise/being active can boost your fertility. Women who do regular, moderate exercise get pregnant quicker than women who don’t exercise regularly.

This doesn’t have to be an exercise class in the gym, it means any activity that will

  • raise your heart rate
  • make you breathe faster
  • make you feel warmer.

If you have a high BMI and are not getting pregnant as soon as you expected, intense exercise may improve your fertility as it will help you lose weight.

Being active by doing regular moderate exercise before and after you get pregnant will help you have a healthy pregnancy and birth.  Here are a few of the benefits of exercise:

  • Research has shown that being active before and during early pregnancy can reduce your risk of having problems in pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia
  • Pregnancy puts strain on the body. You may find it easier to cope with if you are fit, strong and flexible. It has also been shown that labour is easier for women who are active during pregnancy.
  • Staying active can help boost your mood and lessen your risk of stress and depression.
  • Also, if you develop a good exercise routine before you conceive research has shown that it is easier to maintain it during your pregnancy, compared to women who start exercising once they have conceived.
  • Women who are active are more likely to have children who are active too.


Your change for the week

If you have always been moderately active – continue to exercise at the same level to stay healthy.

If you have not been active before, start to build up your level of activity now. The advice is to build up to:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week and
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles

or:

  • 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week and
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles

or:

  • a mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic exercise a week and
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles

Moderate activity means any exercise that will raise your heart rate, make you breathe faster and feel warmer. You should still be able to talk without pausing for breath. Good examples include: swimming, brisk walking, gardening, dancing.

Vigorous activity means any exercise that makes you breathe hard and fast. If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath. Good examples include: jogging or running, aerobics, spinning.  

Examples of muscle-strengthening exercises include: lifting weights, working with resistance bands, yoga, pilates. To get the health benefits from strength exercises you should do them until you get to the point where you struggle to do any more.

If you exercise vigorously on most days of the week – A small amount of women who exercise vigorously on most days of the week, such as competitive athletes, may be advised to cut their exercise to a moderate level if they are having problems getting pregnant.