Day 11 - Increase Your Heart Rate: Cardio Exercise & Fertility Health

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I discussed yesterday the need to move your body, even if just for a short time each day.  Did you exercise yesterday?  Even though my day was crazy I made sure I squeezed that time into my day. 

Remember, exercise is part of self-care as a woman.  If it isn’t already, exercise needs to be a part of your daily routine.  You can’t give your best to others if you are not taking care of yourself. 

Okay.  I will get off of my soapbox now.

Today, I want to talk to you about the importance of increasing your heart rate.  And, the best way to increase your heart rate is to do cardiovascular exercise, or Cardio.

Benefits of Cardio Exercise

  • Feel better about yourself
  • Relieve stress
  • Boost your body’s normal functions
  • Gets your blood circulating – this sends blood flowing to the reproductive system, encouraging regular ovulation and hormone levels

All of the above benefits are not only for your overall health but also your fertility health. By boosting your body's normal body functions and relieving stress, your body can function properly which in turns helps improve fertility health. 

It is recommended that you log 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise each day.  Gentle exercise tones the muscles without straining the body excessively.  If you cannot do 30 minutes a day, aim for 3 to 4 times a week.

Examples of Cardio Exercise

  • Power Walking
  • Swimming
  • Jogging
  • Dancing
  • Working out on an elliptical machine

What is the difference between Cardio intensity levels?

  • Low-Intensity – This type of exercise is considered to be 50-55% of your maximum heart rate, or about a level 3 or 4 on the perceived exertion scale.  This is good for warm-ups or when you are squeezing in other activities throughout the day.
  • Moderate-Intensity – This level falls between 60-70% of your maximum heart rate and is a level 4 to 6 on the perceived exertion scale.  You are working hard, breaking a sweat.  But, you can still talk and not run out of breath. 
  • High-Intensity – This falls between about 75-85% of your maximum heart rate if you using heart rate zones, or a 7 to 8 on this perceived exertion scale.  This exercise feels challenging and leaves you too breathless to talk much.

Remember, it is not recommended to do high-intensity cardio on a regular basis.  Doing high-intensity cardio on a long-term basis can have a negative effect on your fertility health.  This is because high-intensity exercise can become a stressor on your body.  And stressors alert your body and it can go into protective mode where you are no longer ovulating.

Just remember, anything in excess can do more harm than good.

HIIT is a great option for cardio exercise.  HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training.  It is an exercise that alternates short bursts of high intensity exercise into your work out.  The great thing about HIIT is that because of the short bursts of high intensity intervals, you can get more out of a shorter work out. 

According to PCOS Diva, regular HIIT has been shown to significantly increase both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. HIIT also significantly lowers insulin resistance and results in a number of skeletal muscle adaptations that result in enhanced skeletal muscle fat oxidation and improved glucose tolerance.  This is great for women with PCOS.  Check out the article here.

HIIT is also beneficial because it allows you to incorporate some high-intensity cardio exercise without overdoing it.

Getting your heart rate up regularly will keep you in all-around better shape and if you are trying to get pregnant, will help you continue to stay in good health throughout your pregnancy and labor.

I cannot stress enough that you need to consult your doctor before you begin an exercise regimen.  What I am giving you are general recommendations. Every woman is unique and her body's needs are also unique.

Don't forget to Share with others.  If you missed last week's Nutrition Challenges or yesterday's Exercise Challenge, you can find them on the 31 Day Fertility Care Challenge Pinterest Board.