The benefits of exercise for conception

Being fit and healthy is an advantage if you're thinking about starting or adding to your family.

Being in good shape can help you conceive. The body works more efficiently when you are fit and having a toned body usually makes you feel more confident about yourself.

Pregnancy can put a lot of strain on the body and is tiring. If you have the correct balance of muscular strength and flexibility, you can cope more easily with its demands.

How active should I be?

The government recommends that everyone does 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week.

If you haven’t done much regular exercise before start with 15 minutes of continuous exercise three times a week.

Then you can increase that bit by bit to 30-minute sessions four times a week and then to daily exercise. The exercise should be enough to increase your heart and breathing rates, but you should still be able to have a conversation.

Ten steps to fitness

1. Increase your activity level gradually

Start by walking more or joining a beginner’s dance or exercise class. Remember that any extra increase in activity can only do you good.

2. Set yourself small but achievable targets

Don’t make the mistake of trying to do more than you can really manage or you’ll lose heart and give up. Try to give yourself easy targets and keep building them up. Small, regular exercise sessions are better than the odd hour once a month.

3. Look for activities that you enjoy

You are far more likely to keep fit if you enjoy what you are doing. Activities such as badminton, swimming, as well as yoga, pilates, belly dancing or even line dancing will all increase your overall activity level.

4. Find an exercise ‘buddy’

If you feel that you don’t have the time to get fit, see if you can do something at lunchtime or encourage your partner or a friend to go for a walk or join a class with you.

5. Don’t worry about the way you look

You don’t need sportswear to do most types of exercise. Look for comfortable baggy clothes rather than squeezing into lycra!

6. Avoid over-straining your muscles

Many people think that they should feel pain as they exercise. This is not true. You should feel that you have exercised, but not be stiff or uncomfortable. Over-straining muscles can lead to injuries.

7. Don’t have a large meal before exercising

It’s much harder to get your body going if you’ve eaten a lot before doing any kind of exercise. Have a light, healthy, digestible snack (like a banana) if you are hungry beforehand.

8. Wear suitable shoes

It’s a good idea to wear flat comfortable shoes for walking, while you’ll need a proper pair of trainers for exercise such as jogging or aerobic classes. Choose trainers with cushioned soles. You could ask your local sports shop for advice on the best trainers for your exercise.

9. Drink water

Ideally, your exercise should make you just slightly breathless. This means that your heart and lungs are working a little harder than usual. You may be thirsty afterwards, so take some water with you to avoid dehydration.

10. Take some healthy snacks for afterwards

Many people feel hungry after they have exercised. Avoid high energy sugary drinks and snacks if you are also trying to lose a little weight. Choose healthy snacks such as a banana, apple or dried fruit. 

Read our top tips for getting ready to conceive.

Looking to start an exercise regime that you can continue once you're pregnant? Head over to the BabyCentre website to learn the best exercises for before and during pregnancy.


  1. NHS Choices. (2015) Get Active Your Way. (accessed 9th September 2016)
  2. NHS Choices.  Exercise: Getting Started. (accessed 9th September 2016)
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Last reviewed on June 13th, 2017. Next review date June 13th, 2020.

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