Exercise Positively Influences Fertility
Women aren't the only ones who may suffer from exercise-related fertility issues. One Danish study found that men who are overweight or obese have significantly lower sperm counts than men of normal weight. The study showed that overweight men who had a body mass index (BMI, a measure of weight in relation to height) over 25 had a nearly 22 percent lower sperm concentration and 24 percent lower total sperm count compared with healthy weight men. A BMI over 25 is considered overweight and a BMI over 30 is considered obese. However, men who over-exercise may become underweight, which can limit sperm motility and cause abnormal sperm morphology. Exercising too much can also cause the internal temperature of a man's testicles to rise above 96 degrees F, which can lead to sperm death and low sperm count. In addition, performance-enhancing drugs, such as the anabolic steroid androstenedoine, can shrink testicles and lower sperm count.
Moderation is the key to exercise if you are trying to conceive. If you are overweight and are just beginning an exercise program, start out slowly; don't try to get in shape in just one day. Think of it as a long-term plan that you can stick with and treat your workouts as an appointment you cannot miss. Include weight training and stretching along with your aerobic activity, exercising until you are slightly fatigued, but not completely worn out, and find an activity that you enjoy doing so you'll be more likely to continue.
Walking is a great form of low-impact aerobic exercise that will help you lose weight. If you are not currently active, try walking at low to moderate intensity for five minutes and build up to 30 to 60 minutes each day. Other low-impact, calorie-burning activities recommended by experts include cycling, yoga, and swimming. With each activity, begin slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of activity until you are able to exercise for at least 30 minutes, three to four days a week. If you are underweight or are exercising aggressively, reduce your workouts and increase your caloric intake under the supervision of a physician or dietician.
Many studies have examined the anecdotal evidence that certain yoga positions can increase fertility, with mixed results. Some studies, but not all, found that some positions can indeed increase the likelihood of conception because they increase blood flow to your reproductive organs which may stimulate ovulation and make your uterus more conducive to conception. In addition, studies have found that couples undergoing IVF treatment who also practice yoga regularly are more likely to conceive.
If you are trying to conceive, be sure to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly, but in moderation. Everyone has a different level of exercise at which it will begin to interfere with fertility, so it's best to consult your doctor to determine a healthy exercise regimen and diet to maximize your chances of conceiving.
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