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Want to Get Pregnant Faster? Get Moving! (But Not Too Fast)
As with everything in life, moderation is key when it comes to fertility and getting pregnant. A new study published in the March 15 Fertility and Sterility has found that moderate exercise may help normal weight women get pregnant faster, BUT vigorous exercise delays pregnancy except in cases where the woman is overweight or obese.
"All women should be encouraged to engage in moderate physical activity for their health and can be assured that that will not harm their fertility," says Robert G. Brzyski, MD, PhD, a fertility doctor and Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. "Overweight and obese women who may be motivated to lose weight because of the obstetric risks those conditions carry should not worry that their vigorous exercise regimens are harming their chances to get pregnant."
The study was an observational prospective cohort study with Danish and U.S. researchers. They recruited participants through the internet and administered questionnaires to 3,628 women, ages 18 to 40. The participants had to be in stable relationships with male partners, planning to become pregnant and not receiving any fertility treatments. They were given questionnaires at the start of the study and follow-up questionnaires, which gathered information on height, weight, reproductive and medical history, lifestyle, and behavior. At the start, they were asked the average number of hours per week they exercised and to report moderate and vigorous activity separately.
Vigorous activities includes such things as running, fast cycling, aerobics, gymnastics and swimming. Moderate activities were such things as: brisk walking, leisurely cycling, golfing and gardening. The participants were categorized by exercise exposure and body mass index (BMI), and the researchers found the following:
- There was an inverse association between vigorous physical activity and how long it took to become pregnant for normal weight women (BMI under 25). In other words, there was a link between vigorous exercise and longer times to conception in healthy, normal weight women who are planning to become pregnant.
- There was no association between vigorous exercise and a longer time to pregnancy for overweight or obese women (BMI of 25 or above).
- Moderate physical activity was linked to improved time to pregnancy across the range of BMI. Women who engaged in 20 to 39 metabolic equivalent hours per week of physical activity had the shortest times to pregnancy.
The takeaway? All women might reduce their time to pregnancy by increasing moderate physical activity. Vigorous physical activity, however, may lengthen your time to pregnancy for normal weight women (so marathon runners may want to cut back.) The same does not hold true for overweight or obese women.