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Exercise—is a phenomenon that divides any population into two; individuals either love to exercise or hate it. Even among people who unwillingly accept exercise as a part of their daily routine, there are several who simply tolerate the ‘tiresome’ process being in dire need as they are of the outcome of sound health and fitness. Then there are those who love to exercise. How’s it even possible to be in love with exercising, one may be tempted to ask? Who in their right minds would willingly punish one’s body? Well, let’s just say then there are those who profess to, and at times to the point of ‘over-exercising’, and eventually burn out.

Exercising vs. over exercising
Exercise has direct and indirect benefits to one’s health such as boosting the health of your heart, bones, moods and emotions, skin, and in weight management as well. Over-exercising, on the other hand, is counter-productive to one’s health and actually end up being extremely dangerous.

As per the US Government’s 2nd edition Physical Activity Guidelines, it is counseled that adults stick to about 150-300 minutes of weekly moderate physical activity; alternatively only about 75-150 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity of the physical kind is recommended per week, if you are including strength training in your regime. Anything beyond these parameters is considered as over-exercising.

Then, there’s the simpler definition by the National Institutes of Health. Their parameters say if you have been pushing your body too far beyond its current limits and levels and, for too long, while skipping the adequate rest routine, it’s a clear indication of over and compulsive exercising.

It can be due to a need felt for losing weight too soon, getting fit too quickly or simply over-doing a good thing. Over-exercising can spike the instances and intensity of muscle soreness, inflammation, injuries and tears to the body, cause the individual to be fatigued, anxious, irritable, insomniac along with lowering their immunity and fertility levels as well.

How it affects men and women
Indeed there have been several instances of individuals who are prone to over-exercising and have simultaneously been diagnosed with medical conditions causing infertility, such as azoospermia in men. This is a combined effect of extended hours in the gym and increased steroid consumption, which suppress the fertility related hormones and can significantly affect the sperm count.

Hence, it’s very important to remember that body weight has a direct bearing on both male and female fertility, and extreme and arduous exercise can lead to an imbalance in the reproductive systems and result in short-, long-term or even permanent infertility. For men, excess fat affects the delicate balance of testosterone-estrogen in their bodies, thus resulting in sub-normal sperm count.

While for women, studies suggest that too much or too little exercise leads to fertility issues. According to certain research papers, it’s best for women to sustain the optimal body mass index or BMI level of 20-24.9 for standard ovulation, menstruation and, hence, fertility. So, while strenuous activity can cause infertility in women as well, a balanced moderate level has been proven to boost chances of normal conception.

How to maintain a balanced lifestyle
Maintaining a balanced exercise and fitness regime is actually quite simple. If you nourish your body by eating well and consuming the necessary calories, keep yourself well hydrated, get the necessary quantum of sleep and rest to recover from your exercise regime, you are meeting the basic parameters of a balanced, sustainable lifestyle which is necessary for a good fertility functions. If you want to stick to some moderate exercises, consider including activities such as riding a bicycle, swimming, or even walking to your fitness regime.

And remember, most things are alright when practiced in moderation. So if you don’t over-do it, you are doing just fine.

By Dr Gauri Agarwal, Founder & Director, Seeds of Innocence and Genestrings Diagnostics

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the doctors are their independent professional judgment and we do not take any responsibility for the accuracy of their views. This should not be considered as a substitute for physician’s advice. Please consult your treating physician for more details.


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