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Trying to Conceive or pregnant? Where does exercise fit in the process?

pregnant women sitting on yoga mats

Movement and physical activity are essential components for supporting mental health, hormone metabolism, and overall wellness.

During Pregnancy

Regular moderate to vigorous exercise is likely safe during pregnancy and associated with improved birth outcomes for both parent and child (Mottola et al.).

The Australian guidelines outline;:


Staying active during pregnancy has many benefits for the health of both mum and bub, including:

  • preparing for labour and recovery

  • lower risk of gestational diabetes

  • less back and pelvic pain

  • lower risk of incontinence

  • better mental health, including a lower risk of postnatal depression.


If you and your baby are healthy, you should aim to meet the physical and sedentary behaviour guidelines for adults during pregnancy. This means being active most days, preferably every day, to a weekly total of either:

  • 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity

  • 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity

  • an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activities.

Do muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days each week. Aim to do strengthening activities, such as light resistance training or bodyweight exercises. (Details can be accessed in the link at the bottom).

Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you do no physical activity right now, start by doing some, then slowly build up to the recommended amount.

Trying for Conception

recent review further looked at the impact of exercise on fertility and summarized a couple of significant findings:

  • In women* aged 18-40yo and not receiving any fertility treatment, they found a dose-response relationship between the number of hours of vigorous physical activity and the time to pregnancy in women with normal BMI's.

  • Time to pregnancy was significantly less in participants engaging in moderate physical activity, but lower fecundability was observed in all women who engaged in vigorous physical activity.

  • Overweight and obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome should be encouraged to engage in vigorous aerobic exercise or resistance training to optimize their chances of conceiving, with as little as 30 minutes of vigorous exercise three times a week, increasing the the chances of conception

  • In women undergoing assisted reproduction for other diagnoses, exercise likely has little to no impact on treatment outcomes. Individuals can therefore continue their regular exercise regimen throughout the treatment.

  • In healthy women who are trying to conceive, the potential for regular vigorous exercise to negatively impact fertility should be considered. The presence of anovulation and/or a luteal phase defect caused by vigorous exercise should be evaluated*.

  • In one RCT included in the review, 85% of women who exercised vigorously five times a week plus moderate (30% caloric deficit) and severe (60% caloric deficit) calorie restriction experienced at least one luteal phase defect*.

  • ** That said, the results suggest that the detrimental effects of vigorous exercise on fertility in healthy-weight women might be countered through increased calorie intake. Keep in mind future research directly assessing pregnancy rates in a larger sample is needed to confirm this conclusion.

  • There is no apparent detriment to ART cycle outcomes with exercise (before the cycle).

  • There is no clear evidence of the impact of exercise on endometriosis and fertility, as there are no studies. 

In summary

Where does exercise fit in the process while trying to conceive or pregnant?

While we don't have clear guidance on exactly how much exercise is the safest or most supportive for those trying to conceive, it can be seen that some moderate exercise may help. And that too much with too little nutrition can lead to more time to conception. 

Should you have questions or need further guidance, consult with an educated practitioner rather than same random social media influencer, no matter their celebrity status.

Details can be accessed by clicking on the images below

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