by Pam Policastro, L. Ac.
Eastern medicine views the individual as a whole being with body, mind, and spirit interconnected and supported by an underlying energy system. Good health depends on a balanced circulation of Qi, or vital life energy, throughout the body. Keeping this concept in mind, I will now discuss the TCM(Traditional Chinese Medicine) view on physical exercise.
First of all, there's the sweat. In Chinese medicine one of the functions of the Heart is to control body fluids. Sweat is considered the "fluid" of the Heart, if you sweat a lot you are actually unbalancing the Qi, or energy, of your Heart. In the case of perspiring too much and losing too much fluid, you are creating a deficiency of the Heart, which can prevent this organ system from functioning well. What does this mean in terms of fertility? The Heart and Kidney energies control the process necessary for female fertility. The Heart "governs" the blood and is an integral part of the production of blood, therefore contributing to nourishment of the endometrium and embryo.
Then there's the issue of the tendons and ligaments. These areas of your body are dependent upon sufficient blood from the Liver to nourish them. Strenuous and excessive exercise, such as intense aerobic and running workouts, is hard on the joints(tendons and ligaments). When you overwork your joints, the Liver must send more blood to help restore them, and on a continual basis this depletes the Liver's energy. The Liver is a very important organ in terms of women's fertile health. This is because blood is stored in the Liver, especially when the body is at rest. Some of this blood must be passed onto the uterus before preparation for pregnancy or menstruation can occur. If the Liver Blood is deficient, then menstruation may be scanty, infrequent, or missing...compromising fertility.
Chinese medicine sees intense physical exercise as spending precious internal energy that is very difficult to replace, and not creating true health. It is also detrimental to fertility. Wouldn't it make sense then, to pursue a form of "exercise" that actually increases life-enhancing energy instead of using it up? Meditation, Qigong, Taiji, and Yoga have been shown to create positive changes in the areas of the brain linked with emotion as well as increase immune function and blood flow as well as decrease blood pressure. PS...these more holistic forms of exercise support healthy fertility.