Trying to conceive can be a long and frustrating process due to the small window available to become pregnant. It's understandable to worry about what physical activity is acceptable while waiting for a successful implantation. Implantation occurs between the third and fourth week of pregnancy, so at the time your fertilized egg is entering the lining of your uterus, it's likely you haven't even discovered there's a bun in the oven.
For most women, moderate-intensity physical activity is beneficial during the entire pregnancy -- including those early weeks of implantation. Moderate-intensity exercises can actually help with conception and help combat the fatigue many women feel during the first trimester of pregnancy. If you haven't started feeling fatigue yet, it's likely just around the corner. Pregnant women should aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise at least five days per week. Swimming, walking, cycling on a stationary bicycle and even strength training with light weights count as moderate exercise.
Vigorous-intensity exercise can interfere with implantation, according to a study published in "Fertility and Sterility" in 2012 and reported by U.S. News. The main effect is on ovulation since women with a BMI under 25 who participated in vigorous exercise more than five hours per week had a 42 percent reduced chance of pregnancy. Vigorous activities include activities that make it difficult to carry a conversation. As a general rule, if you can't carry on a conversation without feeling out of breath, you're overdoing your exercise and potentially reducing the success of implantation.
Even though low-to-moderate intensity exercise is recommended for most women, if your pregnancy is considered high-risk, even low-intensity exercises may be restricted by your physician or midwife. If you have a history of miscarriages, uterine or cervical abnormalities, pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, or cardiovascular or pulmonary disease -- you may be considered high-risk. Always consult with your doctor before starting or continuing an exercise program while trying to conceive. Scuba diving, horseback riding, rock climbing or any other activity done at high altitudes or that has a risk of falling are to be avoiding at all stages of pregnancy.
If you suspect you're pregnant, listen to your body for the signs to stop exercising, such as dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain and an irregular heartbeat. Vaginal bleeding and cramping are also signs to stop, but it's tricky at this point during pregnancy because spotting and mild cramping are also signs of implantation. Just to be safe, if you experience any bleeding with cramping, stop exercising and consult with your physician or midwife.
- MayoClinic.com: Pregnancy and Exercise: Baby, Let's Move!
- What to Expect When You're Expecting; Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg and Sandee Hathaway
- Your Pregnancy & Birth: Fourth Edition; The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.