If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Exercise is not one of my favorite things to do. It was easy to let exercise slip out of my life in recent years because I didn’t make it a priority and didn’t motivate myself to work out.
After this summer, however, when all my clothes started feeling a little tight, I knew I had to do something. I dragged myself, kicking and screaming, back into the gym.
This time I armed myself with a little help in the form of a personal trainer because I knew that in order to stick to an exercise program I needed someone to help me structure my workouts for maximum impact. A fitness trainer could also give me suggestions of things to do in my own workouts between our sessions, and help me track my progress. Most importantly she could hold me accountable for doing the work.
As I’ve written before, sometimes it helps to have someone holding you accountable, as it’s easier to keep an exercise appointment with somebody else than with yourself.
I’ve been going once a week to the personal trainer, and twice on my own in between our weekly sessions. I’ve been doing this for about 6 weeks now. I don’t think I’ve lost any weight yet (although I’m not really sure. I don’t own a scale!), but the exercises are getting easier and I’m feeling stronger. Awesome!
I’m also feeling on top of the world – that wonderful feeling of strength, invincibility and accomplishment that only working out can give! I’m experiencing this great feeling and improved mood not only when I’m working out but in daily life as well. Yeah, baby!
I’ve shared here before that when you’re trying to conceive, experts recommend getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, 5 days a week. I’ve also given my thoughts about how your exercise plan could be structured to get your body in tip-top shape for conception.
This week I decided to bring in the big guns. Personal trainer and fitness expert Mike Goncalves from the Wellness Bucket gives his expert advice on how exercise can help you prepare to conceive. You might remember Mike as the face of B-Method before I came on board. I’m so excited to have him back for this special interview.
So, what’s up with all the squats and pushups the fitness trainer is having me do?
MG: Push-ups and squats, two basic but excellent exercises, are excellent for building a solid foundation of muscular strength, endurance, and stability in which other exercise can then be built upon for even more benefits and results.
These two basic exercises and movements engage a majority of your primary muscle groups such as your shoulders, chest, arms, hips, and thighs. As with any exercise, a balanced and safe amount of sets and reps for these two exercises is equally as important so that you don’t overdo and risk the chance of injury.
Always work within your fitness level and be mindful of how and what your body is feeling.
Experts recommend that if you’re trying to conceive, to get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, that’s 30 minutes, 5 times a week. How do you recommend best spending this time to boost our fertility, with a fitness plan that’s more heavily oriented toward cardiovascular training, or toward strength training?
MG: 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week is definitely a good formula to follow.
To maximize your weekly benefits from these 150 minutes, split your time evenly between cardiovascular training and strength training –15 minutes of cardio, 15 minutes of strength training.
Both help with boosting fertility by improving your metabolism and circulation, which contributes to better egg production and optimizes your reproductive system by stimulating the endocrine glands, which secrete hormones that help eggs grow.
It doesn’t matter which one you do first; you can mix it up. Pick what feels best for you since what matters most is that you’re exercising regularly per week.
What about flexibility, where does that fit in?
MG: When it comes to fertility and overall health, stretching is a key component that is often times forgotten about or neglected.
Having a regular stretch routine that you can follow not only contributes to your overall health; it also helps your muscles release certain natural chemicals that play a role in muscle pain. The reason this is important is because during pregnancy, your body is able to better mold itself and assist during labor and delivery.
The best time to stretch is right after completing a workout to help increase blood flow to your pelvis, therefore stimulating hormone-producing glands and releasing muscle tension.
Stretching also helps to decrease stress and anxiety, which are fertility killers. You can help increase your fertility just by relaxing and cooling down at the end of every workout. When stretching, be sure you’re fully relaxed and focused on deep long breathes during the stretches which will relax you more, allow for more range of motion, and increased flexibility.
How do you recommend that someone who’s just getting off the couch to ease the process of getting more exercise back into her life as she’s trying to conceive?
MG: If you’re just getting off the couch and new to fitness and exercise, start with an exercise schedule that consists of walking daily for 20 minutes. Walking is a gentle, low-impact exercise consisting of the right balance of ease, accessibility, and physical benefit for improving your overall health and fertility.
Use the other 10 minutes to do a few strength training exercises such as push-ups, squats, lunges, and sit-ups that you feel comfortable with doing.
What matters most is that you’re getting in some form of exercise 5 times a week. Being active and making exercise a part of your weekly routine is very important when trying to conceive.
Can you list 3-4 exercises that are must-do’s in terms of the benefits they have for our fertility?
MG: In order to make sure you are exercising your upper body muscles (chest, back, shoulders, biceps, and triceps) as well as our lower body muscles (hips, glutes, thighs, and calves), here are 4 exercises that’ll help you cover all your bases and help support your fertility efforts.
Be sure to check out Mike’s awesome video demonstrations of all the exercises mentioned here!
The first two exercises are Push-Ups and Single Arm Tricep Presses. These two exercises work all 5 upper body muscle groups. For less intensity you can do each exercise from your knees. For added intensity, do them both from your toes.
The two lower body exercises are Squats and Alternating Lunges. These two exercises will work all of the major lower body muscle groups. Here’s some good news too, you don’t need any equipment to complete all four of these exercises and can do them pretty much anywhere.
Big thanks to Mike for being here and sharing his wisdom this week. Now it’s your turn – how are you moving your body to get in shape and prepare to conceive? Fire away in the comments below!
Big fertile love to you,
[Originally posted at B Fit, B Fertile on 11/17/16]