When most people think of exercise, the first goal is to lose weight and slim down that waist line. That's a fantastic goal, particularly as exercise is a great mechanism to manage stress and your BMI (health metric based on the ratio of weight versus height). When planning your exercise to boost your fertility health, there are three things to keep in mind: 1) maintain a healthy BMI and body fat percentage; 2) use exercise to reduce stress, not increase it; and 3) ensure you're getting enough rest.
1. For women, the ideal BMI pre-prengancy is between 20 and 25. However, BMI is not always the best indicator of how weight will affect reproduction since it cannot distinguish between weight contributed by fat or muscle, so we must also look at percentage of body fat. The ideal body fat percentage is 17% to 19%.
2. Exercise is a great tool to help you feel better - this can mean to relax, to relieve stress, and restore your body. With the right approach, exercise can also decrease cortisol, one of our body’s primary stress hormones, which can deplete your reproductive hormones and impact your fertility. I love a great bootcamp class, but make sure to complement it with some yoga and/or pilates.
3. Make sure you're getting plenty of rest. Studies show that a prolonged energy deficiency for women with a BMI of 25 or under can lead to reproductive dysfunction, such as infrequent (oligomenorrhea) or absent (amenorrhea) menstrual cycles. Let's be clear - this is not caused by exercise alone, but that exercise can be a significant contributor to an energy deficiency and an underweight BMI (BMI < 18.5), so make sure you find the right balance.
What are some great relaxing, and restorative exercises to try?