LONDON -- Conditioning for pregnancy has some things in common with preparing to run a race.
Diet, exercise and avoiding unhealthy habits are all important to increase the chances of becoming pregnant, said May Al-Araji, MBChB, a family medicine expert at Mayo Clinic Healthcare in London.
"In general, we look at lifestyle to start off with," Al-Araji said. "Are exercise and diet healthy and balanced? Are there any factors that might reduce the ability to conceive, such as smoking and alcohol consumption?"
Overly strenuous exercise or being underweight or overweight can decrease fertility. When it comes to diet, eating healthy, varied foods in the right amounts to achieve nutrition and a healthy weight is best.
"Look at the portion size. I think that is the most important," Al-Araji said. "In general, try to avoid processed food and rich, fatty food, and incorporate pulses, greens, vegetables and fruit."
If health concerns such as coeliac disease mean limiting or avoiding certain foods, that should be taken into account in dietary planning, she added.
Reducing stress levels, getting enough sleep and avoiding excessive caffeine are also important to fertility, Al-Araji said.
A healthy lifestyle is important for women and men alike when planning a family, Dr. Al-Araji said: "The advice is very similar: Look after your health."