The interesting thing is, I use to HATE sport. I hated it at school (but they force you to do it), I hated watching it, talking about it, participating in it, everything about it. But when you decide to become whole and new and well, you have to consider what you physically do with your body, especially when you struggle with fertility. So, I started researching the subject and the interesting thing is this… I couldn’t find a gynaecologist, in South Africa, that would recommend a specific exercise regime for the phase of my cycle I am in. This article in fitnessmagazine.com confirms why; studies on which to base fitness advice are still difficult to find and definitely contradictory. I think one of the reasons is defining the effect of exercise alone, as opposed to the effect of diet alone or medical intervention alone, on infertility.
An amazing Doctor from Australia, Dr. Maryna Olivier, sent me this article from the Fertility Society of Australia, which helped me understand the impact of exercise a little bit better (http://changingdream.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/The-role-of-exercise-in-improving-fertility.pdf) . This article classifies exercise as low, moderate, vigorous and intense and looks at different phases of the fertility cycle (conception, implantation and live births). With this article and other resources, I’ve discovered the following 6 things:
- Vigorous activity is associated with reduced risk of ovulatory infertility (YES!)
- A minimum of 1 hour exercise 3 times per week improved rates of implantation and pregnancy and reduced the risk of miscarriage (YES!)
- Low to moderate exercise was associated with increased implantation and live birth rates (YES!)
- There is high quality evidence in the general population for the effect of exercise in improving quality of life (YES!)
- High intensity exercise regimens appear to reduce fertility (no problem for me there)
- 4 hours (or more) per week exercise reduced implantation and live birth rates and increased risk of cycle cancellation and pregnancy loss
So, in very basic terms, there is a sweet spot between 3 and 4 hours per week exercise. My exercise intensity should be moderate. I should focus on strengthening my core and increasing my muscle strength. Based on this research (and a lot more articles that I will share as we go along), I’ve started developing an exercise regime for myself. Here is what I’ve done:
- I joined a running club. Just go and do it! Don’t join for socializing, but for the benefit of having a coach. A coach notices when you are absent, when you are low and when you have no motivation. It helped so much to have someone notice me and notice how I’m doing. HUGE MOTIVATOR! Since I’ve never done any form of athletic sport before, I simply started walking. It wasn’t long before walking became running… And before you could say “go running”, I did my first 5km race!
- I discovered pilates… OH MY WORD, I absolute love, love, love! I have to admit, I do better in one-on-one sessions, so I made sure I had my own pilates instructor. Without planning to, we became amazingly good friends and we are kindred spirits, I truly believed God placed her on my path to keep my core and my faith strong.
This is my sample plan, my very basic routine, which absolutely works for me!
At this stage it MUST be noted that I work with a whole team of experts who supports my journey in becoming fit. I work with a gynaecologist AND a biokineticist AND a qualified pilates instructor AND the coach at the running club I’ve joined! (Watch this space, I will be sharing all of their details and if you are in the Pretoria region, I would highly recommend them!) Please, please, please consult with the experts BEFORE you start doing moderate to vigorous exercise! This sample plan is based on the fact that I like routine, but also adventure (and with “adventure” I mean a night trail run, nothing major). I love some competition (not a lot though), it keeps me motivated! I can’t swim (lots of commotion, but no movement) and I don’t like riding bicycles (I’ve got shaky balance). I choose forms of exercise that I can do anywhere, anytime. The most important thing is to find what works for you and just start doing it!
For someone that hated exercise and didn’t know the first thing about it, please believe me when I say, exercise is easy! And it changed my life! It relieves my depression, it made me love my body, it somehow made me listen to my body and it makes me think twice about what I eat. In just 6 months, this is what happened…
The MOST important thing, exercise makes me think “WOW, I just did that!”
As always, I would love your comments! Tell me what form of exercise works for you, what you love and what you would still like to try! (As you can see from my sample plan, I’m very conservative, there is a world of exercise out there that I still have to discover, let’s go on this journey together!)