Q: I don’t really exercise on a regular basis. My ob/gyn told me that if I am not already exercising, I should not start an exercise program if I am trying to become pregnant. Is this sound advice?
A: The answer is both yes and no. Recent research has demonstrated that women who exercised moderately were able to conceive more quickly than either women who did not exercise at all or than women who did very intense, vigorous work-outs. Mild to moderate exercise (e.g., walking for 30 minutes daily) has also been found to improve mood, promote restful sleep, and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Regular, moderate exercise also helps you to maintain a healthy weight, which is important when you are trying to conceive. At the same time, Dr. Alice Domar in her book, “Conquering Infertility,” talks about her observation that some women who have difficulty becoming pregnant are what she calls “exercise sensitive.” These women typically have very intense exercise routines (think boot camp workouts or marathon runners) and often become pregnant when they discontinue their vigorous exercise activities. Thus, unless you have some medical condition that prohibits mild to moderate physical exertion, it seems that walking or other low-impact activities would be the rule of thumb to promote optimal health during the pre-conception period.