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How safe is exercise while trying to conceive?

How safe is exercise while trying to conceive?

Whether you work out daily or you want to get in better shape to prepare for pregnancy, you likely have questions about what’s considered safe when exercising while trying to get pregnant. While you should always discuss any concerns about physical activity with your healthcare professional first, moderate exercise is generally safe to do while trying to conceive.1 What’s more, maintaining a healthy weight may even help when trying to get pregnant.2 Let’s take a closer look.

The benefits of exercise while trying to conceive

Engaging in regular exercise is super important for maintaining your health.3 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), working out can help you reach your ideal weight, make you stronger, better your mental health, and, in general, make day-to-day life easier by reducing functional limitations.3 None of that stops when you decide to try to conceive. 

Maintaining your current exercise regimen or even starting a new regimen of low- to moderate-intensity exercise can help ensure you’re in good physical shape for pregnancy and birth. A 2022 review and analysis of published studies on the link between exercise and fertility showed that working out can have a positive impact on fertility.4 

Exercise can also impact body weight, and being overweight (or not weighing enough) can affect fertility.5 When you’re overweight or underweight you may have problems with ovulation and fertility treatments.5 According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s 2021 obesity and reproductive committee opinion, “In anovulatory women with obesity, weight loss interventions improve the chance of unassisted conception.”6

Exercising while trying to get pregnant: What is considered safe?

It’s important to talk to your healthcare professional about the impact your physical activity will have on your personal fertility journey.

General do’s and don’ts of exercise while trying to conceive


  • Exercise on a regular basis — 30 minutes, five days a week is a good goal
  • Focus on strengthening your muscles at least two days a week1 
  • Choose physical activities that are moderate in intensity7 
  • Take extra precautions if you are a competitive athlete, including maintaining close communication with your healthcare professional, drinking plenty of water and making sure you consume the proper amount of calories7 
  • Strive for a healthy weight (talk to your healthcare professional about what a healthy weight looks like for you)1


  • Engage in exercise that’s considered vigorous in intensity without first talking to your healthcare professional8 
  • Exercise so much that you become underweight
  • Stop exercising if you are about to begin or are in the middle of fertility treatments. It’s unlikely that physical activity will have a negative effect on in vitro fertilization (IVF) success (and some physical activity may even be beneficial), but it’s important to follow the plan put forth by your healthcare professional.9

What is considered excessive exercise when trying to conceive?

Depending on your personal situation and your healthcare professional’s assessment, excessive exercise could include workouts that are vigorous in intensity. According to the CDC, a moderate intensity workout is something you can do while talking at the same time. 10 This can include energetic walking, gentle bicycling, playing tennis (doubles can be less strenuous than singles) or easy yardwork such as gardening and water aerobics.10 The CDC classifies vigorous intensity activities as those that are difficult to do while talking at the same time. 10 Think swimming lots of laps, running, fast bike rides on hilly roads or strenuous hikes.10

However, just because the CDC qualifies running as a vigorous exercise doesn’t mean you should stop running before trying to conceive, especially if you’re an experienced runner. Same goes for your beloved Pilates or barre classes — just because they’re not on these lists doesn’t mean they’re off limits. Talk to your healthcare professional to develop an exercise plan that’s best for you.

What are the best forms of exercising while trying to get pregnant? The simple answer is the ones you enjoy the most and you’re most likely to do. Physical activity that focuses on strengthening your core (your abdominal and back muscles) now can be beneficial for when you become pregnant. Exercise that gets your heart rate pumping can help you build up endurance. Swimming is a great zero-impact exercise (which many people really love once pregnant). But the most important thing is finding a physical activity that you’ll not only do repeatedly, but that makes you feel good while doing it (and is approved by your healthcare professional).

What about exercise during ovulation and implantation?

You’ve likely heard the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, which lasts from the day after ovulation until the day before your period starts, referred to as “the two-week wait.” And a well-meaning family member or friend may have shared the common myth, “Don’t exercise during the two-week wait.”

Unless your healthcare professional has already cleared you to do so, now is not the best time to start a new, intense exercise routine. Gentle, moderate exercise is best. If you’re already regularly engaged in vigorous physical activity, talk to your healthcare professional for advice on what to do during your luteal phase. Why?

The luteal phase plays an important role in early pregnancy, as it’s the time when the uterus prepares for the implantation of a fertilized egg.11 Some people say the average length of the luteal phase is 14 days, but there is a range of what’s considered normal. The length of the luteal phase can differ from woman to woman and from cycle to cycle. It can vary based on the length of your menstrual cycle and at which point you ovulate during your cycle. One study in Fertility and Sterility of 2,062 women in the U.S. and Canada conducted over 27 months from 2013 to 2016 shows that increased physical activity can actually decrease how long the luteal phase lasts.12 A short luteal phase, defined as being 10 days or fewer from the day of ovulation to the first day of the next period, may not give the uterine lining enough time to thicken sufficiently to be able to support implantation of a fertilized egg.11 However, this same study maintains that moderate physical activity was associated with improved fertility among women.12

Trying to conceive can be both joy-filled and nerve-wracking. Working out while trying to conceive can be a great way to de-stress, kick your endorphins into gear and help you feel like you have an active role in something that so often can feel out of your hands. So put down your phone, head out the door and go take a brisk walk. You’ll be glad you did.



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  1.  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Good health before pregnancy: prepregnancy care. Updated December 2021. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/good-health-before-pregnancy-prepregnancy-care 
  2. Johnson TC. WebMD. How do exercise, weight, and age affect fertility? Updated August 9, 2021. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/infertility-age-weight-exercise 
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Benefits of physical activity. Updated August 1, 2023. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm 
  4. Xie F, You Y, Guan C, Gu Y, Yao F, Xu, J. Association between physical activity and infertility: a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis. J Transl Med. 2022;20:237. doi: 10.1186/s12967-022-03426-3. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9125843/ 
  5. Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Weight, fertility, and pregnancy. Updated February 17, 2021. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.womenshealth.gov/healthy-weight/weight-fertility-and-pregnancy 
  6. Practice Committee for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Obesity and reproduction: a committee opinion. Fertil Steril. 2021;1165. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2021.08.018. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.asrm.org/globalassets/_asrm/practice-guidance/practice-guidelines/pdf/obesity_and_reproduction.pdf 
  7. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Prepregnancy counseling. Updated 2020. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2019/01/prepregnancy-counseling 
  8. Mussawar M, Balsom AA, Gordon JL. The effect of physical activity on fertility: a mini-review. F&S Reports. 2023;4(2),150-158. doi: 10.1016/j.xfre.2023.04.005. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10310950/ 
  9. Rao M, Zeng Z, Tang L. (2018). Maternal physical activity before IVF/ICSI cycles improves clinical pregnancy rate and live birth rate: a systematic review and meta-analysis. RB&E. 2018;16. doi: 10.1186/s12958-018-0328-z. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5803901/ 
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measuring physical activity. Updated June 3, 2022. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/measuring/index.html 
  11. Cleveland Clinic. Luteal phase. Updated November 4, 2022. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/24417-luteal-phase 
  12. McKinnon CJ, Hatch EE, Rothman KJ, Wesselink AK, Hahn KA, Wise LA. Body mass index, physical activity and fecundability in a North American preconception cohort study. Fertil Steril. 2016;106(2):451-459. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.04.011. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(16)61103-2/fulltext