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Effects of Cardio Exercise on Fertility

April 11, 2014

As with many of our recommendations, we seem to be bucking the system. One of our latest conclusions in working with patients is that cardio exercise is probably not physiologically beneficial for humans. Another way to say it is cardio is bad for humans. Now that you’re making that face, I’ll explain. Humans were not meant to run on treadmills or run marathons. The cave man meandered through his environment with occasional bursts of speed and effort but not prolonged. He was probably strong from chronic motion, climbing, walking, etc. Even in our society, it was not until I was 10 or so that the “exercise revolution” started. Women rarely engaged in team sports. Now everyone is pushing our girls into sports of all kinds. Not that I’m against girls and sports, it just seems that nature isn’t in favor of it. The most sensitive system in the body is the reproductive endocrine system in women. Aerobic exercise creates a stress response in the hypothalamus (area in the brain that reads stress and controls feeding and reproduction) that results in decreased signals to the ovary that produce decreased fertility. Nature’s way of preventing a stressed female from becoming pregnant where baby and or mother might die (preservation of the species). Other stress responses for aerobic exercise include increased cortisol, and increased epinephrine (adrenaline). Both of which cause increases in insulin and blood sugar. This then is metabolically harmful. The studies show that aerobic exercise does not help weight loss, weight control and if anything results in the opposite. I can’t tell you how many patients through the years I’ve seen that exercise hours per day with weight gain?? This is the mechanism. Bad for fertility and bad for weight and metabolism. Why do people lose weight when they start an exercise program? Because they are spending hours in the gym and not in front of the TV eating high carbohydrate snacks. Nutrition is the key to weight loss.

We do however believe that the muscle system is integral in the insulin and glucose metabolic pathway. Therefore , Non-Aerobic muscle strengthening exercise is very beneficial to weight control and health. For as little effort as 30 minutes per week, you can get to nearly 80% of your genetic muscle strength at any age. In 30 minutes twice a week, you can reach 100% of your strength potential. For more information on exercise get Fred Hahn’s book on his website, The following article in USA Weekend speaks to the issues discussed above:

Michael D. Fox, MD

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