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Wellness Wednesdays: Why I Should Walk During IVF

 

Fitness for IVF
Walking is the basic low intensity exercise that can be used by just about everyone to provide both physical and mental health benefits at no cost to themselves, other than a little time and energy.

We know that in vitro fertilization (IVF) is stressful and one of the most difficult parts is removing yourself from your usual activities such as exercise. Yet in general, women taking part in IVF programs are advised to limit physical exercise to help increase their chances of conceiving.

This is to minimize potential complications of IVF that can arise from strenuous exercise, creating additional problems rather than improving pregnancy rates. Exercise can cause and/or exacerbate issues such as ovarian torsion.

However, that does not mean that there are no benefits to be gained from light strenuous activity. For those who are more active usually, it wont feel like much; but for those who are less active, now is a good a time as any to prepare your body for pregnancy.

So what are the health benefits of taking part in light exercise such as walking during IVF treatment?

Alan Kemp from Alanfitness.ca in Vancouver is here to share some of his fitness knowledge with you.

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My clients often say to me, Alan, how can I improve my health without spending a fortune on equipment and gym memberships?

Walking is the basic low intensity exercise that can be used by just about everyone to provide both physical and mental health benefits at no cost to themselves, other than a little time and energy.

Walking at a regular pace for 30 minutes per day helps raise your heart rate, which in turn increases the blood flow throughout the body, including to the brain.

This increased blood flow results in more oxygen and nutrients being sent to your brain, increasing cognitive function and activating the increased release of the brains feel-good neurotransmitters, or endorphins as they are more commonly known.

One of the best things about walking is that you can do it anywhere, from inside on the treadmill if you would prefer to avoid B.C.s inclement spring weather, or out on one of the provinces many picturesque trails, where you can top up on your natural vitamin D stores, helping to facilitate normal immune system function to assist your body in fighting disease.

Another benefit of regular light exercise is a reduction in anxiety, an emotion most of you going through the IVF process will be familiar with. Let me ask you, How many times have you sat working on a problem and got nowhere fast; but after taking a break and being distracted for a while, you returned and were able to move forward after seeing the issue from an entirely new perspective? Walking can help to alleviate some of the stress resulting from anxiety. This helps improve sleep patterns, better self esteem and provide you with an enhanced sense of well being and control over your life.

If that wasnt enough to encourage you to get yourself moving, the physical benefits of exercise are also pretty significant.

Walking 30 minutes per day can also help to raise your metabolism leaving you feeling energized and ready to tackle whatever life has in store for you.

A positive side effect of this raise metabolism is that it encourages your body to burn fat, allowing you to stay healthy and in shape during your IVF treatment.

Moreover, regular consistent exercise can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing high blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels while promoting an increase in the good cholesterol levels in the blood.

So all that said, How do I know if my exercise intensity is light or moderate? I hear you ask.

Here are clues that your exercise intensity is at a light level:

  • You have no noticeable changes in your breathing pattern
  • You don’t break a sweat (unless it’s very hot or humid)

It should feel easy and you can easily carry on a full conversation or even sing.

Compare this to moderate exercise intensity, moderate activity feels somewhat hard:

  • Your breathing quickens, but you’re not out of breath.
  • You develop a light sweat after about 10 minutes of activity.

You will be able to carry on a conversation, but you can’t sing.

On a final note, did you know that the average adult body is made up of approximately 55 per cent water? It is therefore important to keep the body hydrated in order that it can carry out its basic daily functions optimally.

For men, hydration is important for sperm nourishment.

Hydration has even more importance for women undergoing IVF as drinking liquids will keep fluid levels in the female reproductive organs at healthy levels. Consuming liquids will also keep blood vessels hydrated and limit the potential dehydrating and toxic side effects of some forms of fertility treatment.

So remember to hydrate adequately before, during and after light exercise. You may not be breaking a noticeable sweat but the body is constantly sweating in order to maintain body temperature so be sure to account for any fluid loss through sweat as a result of your walk.

The yardstick for drinking enough water and electrolytes is to make sure you are consuming enough fluids to keep your urine pale and plentiful. This is especially important for women during the few weeks post IVF and during early pregnancy.

I hope this gives you some insight into the benefits of light exercise during IVF. No more excuses, spring is officially here so go on, get out there and experience the benefits for yourself.

If you are new to exercise and suffer from any pre existing medical conditions, always seek medical clearance from your IVF consultant at Genesis Fertility Centre prior to beginning any form of physical activity program.

Alan KempAlan Kemp is a Vancouver-based personal trainer who has experience working with a wide spectrum of clients including special populations such as pregnant women. If you have any further questions, please contact him at alanfitness.ca.

 

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