London - Gardening, doing the housework or going for brisk walks can treble IVF success, according to researchers.
Women who led active lifestyles in the year leading up to their treatment were far more likely to conceive.
Scientists have been divided about whether exercise helps or hinders the chances of pregnancy, either naturally or with IVF.
While some studies have found that physical activity reduces fertility, others have found it improves it – or makes no difference.
Now scientists have found that women who do the housework, go for brisk walks or take other “moderate” forms of exercise are three times more likely to conceive than those who spend most of the day sitting down.
The lifestyles of 87 women undergoing IVF were compared in the year leading up to their treatment. The researchers gave the women a score depending on how much physical activity they did each day.
This did not necessarily have to be exercise but could include dusting, vacuuming, pushing the buggy or gardening. The findings will be presented this week to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s annual conference in San Diego, California.
Lead researcher Dr Kathryn Calhoun, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said exercise prevents the body from producing too much insulin, which is thought to be harmful to the development of eggs.
“Exercise is really beneficial for maintaining insulin sensitivity, so it seems to protect against this problem,” she added. “This study supports the message of maintaining an active lifestyle way before getting pregnant.”
The NHS advises all adults to do at least two and a half hours moderate exercise a week such as jogging, cycling or even gardening. Pregnant women are told to do no more than four 30-minute sessions a week but there are no specific guidelines for those trying to conceive.
Some women think they should get as much rest as possible in the months beforehand and cut back on exercise or strenuous chores.
Dr Allan Pacey, fertility expert at Sheffield University and chairman of the British Fertility Society, said: “I would have thought a little moderate exercise would be helpful as it changes your mood, changes your physiology and it may make people more interested in sex.” - Daily Mail