When you find yourself struggling to bring home a baby there are a million things that you are bombarded with on a physical and emotional level. The last thing you think you’ll have to worry about is EXERCISE.
Movement and exercise are supposed to be healthy, right? No matter what you do…MOVEMENT is good. From stretching, to walking, to running a marathon and lifting weights, it’s all beneficial.
But is it really?
Our bodies are incredible systems that require specific amounts of vitamins and hormones to trigger metabolic processes that happen in perfect harmony. These processes require a perfect environment to function efficiently and that’s where exercise and fertility can find themselves in a frustrating dichotomy.
To understand the effects of exercise, we need a basic lesson on our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). So, let’s keep it simple.
The ANS has a parasympathetic and a sympathetic part in our body. They balance each other out and are both equally important. The sympathetic nervous system controls our body’s “fight or flight” response and how we react to “danger, stress, fear”.
The parasympathetic nervous system helps our body regulate during times of rest. It helps pull the body out of the “fight or flight” response and into a “rest and digest” mode. It heals the body between one “bout of stress” and another.
The sympathetic system used to be an especially useful tool for survival when we had to run from sabretooth tigers. It gives us the proper heart rate, the power, the adrenaline and mental clarity to survive that moment of stress. In modern days, even small things like a cell phone notification can trigger this system and get your heart rate to rise and release adrenaline into your body unnecessarily.
When the sympathetic system gets overloaded; a few domino effects tend to happen.
Some examples of these are:
- hormone dysregulation
- increased cortisol
- adrenal fatigue
Now, if you are in the thick of your fertility journey you can probably relate to these terms or at least guess that these examples could impact your outcome in the long run.
How does exercise tie into this?
Every time we put your body through an intense workout it will perceive it as stress, it will start a cascade of reactions like the sabretooth tiger threat we talked about earlier. The nuance here is that I would love for everyone to understand there is no magic recipe. Just do this type of workout and it will be ok. You must remember your body is unique and the way you have been moving through life is also unique to you.
Is it time for some self-awareness?
Ask yourself questions to discover how much effort you are putting into a specific movement routine (walking, running, weight training, pilates, yoga, etc.). The more effort you put in, the more stress it’s causing your body. Also ask yourself how much energy you have afterwards? How well you are sleeping? Is your mental health increasing when you do these things?
It is important to be a realist and adjust your routine accordingly.
If running is too intense then going for a walk is probably a better option. Change the length of your weight training routine and add some stretching or attend a pilates class instead. If the yoga class you’ve been taking is a more advanced one, then choose a more restorative yoga practice.
Another trick is to tap into your parasympathetic nervous system which helps you create balance. Examples of this are:
- yin yoga
- walk slow
Connecting and grounding with nature does wonders to our metal health and balances our physical body too!
So, in a nutshell, take note and pinpoint what triggers your stress (turn off those phone notifications!) and what helps you get into YOUR rest mode.
Adjust your exercise routine to what will benefit YOU.
Ask for help if you are unsure.
And last but not least, remember this is a season. And it will pass. You will get back to your normal routine when your body is able to take the stress and happily run with it, but for now, focus on being lighter and gentler to yourself in the moment.
I wish you the best in your journey and that your dreams come true very very soon…
With much love and health,