Historically, it has always been assumed that if you are trying to conceive, as a woman, you should behave as though you are already pregnant: eating well, avoiding alcohol or smoking, getting lots of rest etc.
So it stands to reason that if you are a woman who does a lot of high impact exercise, particularly something like weight lifting, you might think you need to take it easy, or even stop strength training while you are trying to conceive.
However, more and more evidence is showing that continuing with your exercise routine could actually be beneficial. So can the same be said for training ahead of the conception period?
Well, according to some experts, yes it can. Here’s what you need to know:
Body weight has a big impact on fertility
One of the major influencers on how easily you will conceive is your BMI. If yours falls into the normal category, then your chances of conceiving quickly are much higher than if you are significantly over- or underweight.
Strength training in particular is great for your BMI. People who lift weights tend to eat well, as it aids their success in the sport. Not only that, but strength training has been shown to have a positive influence on insulin sensitivity, which can also impact fertility.
Another thing that impacts on your fertility is your stress level. Women who are particularly stressed and anxious often find it harder to conceive. Strength training, and any other exercise you enjoy, will release tension and boost endorphins. This can help you to feel happier and more relaxed. And therefore, more likely to conceive.
Stronger bodies labour more easily
Another advantage to strength training is that it can help to ease your labour further down the line.
Any kind of regular exercise will increase your stamina, which is essential for a lengthy labour. Exercises like squats will strengthen the muscles that are used during childbirth.
Should I continue strength training during pregnancy?
As with anything strenuous you do in your daily life, you should only continue as far as you feel able into pregnancy. This may mean reducing the amount of weight you are lifting, or the number of reps you do.
Ultimately, your body will let you know if you are taking things too far. So if you feel comfortable, you should be able to carry on.
An exception to the rule
The only exception is for women undergoing fertility treatment. While all these points still apply in theory, if you have been struggling to conceive for a long time, or have experienced multiple miscarriages, you may be better doing a gentler form of exercise.