Pregnancy: Exercising Safely in the Heat

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Amelia Phillips

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The summer heat and humidity is a fast track way to fatigue and lethargy for most of us and that’s without exercising or being pregnant! Combine these three and it’s VERY uncomfortable. But just because it’s hot and you are pregnant it doesn’t mean you have to give up on exercise!

An expert told the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) that pregnant women can and should exercise (under supervision of course)! Hundreds of studies show that exercise, when done safely has far more benefits than risks including the prevention of gestational diabetes and hypertension, it keeps your weight gain in check, reduces back pain, and keeps you fit for that all important delivery. Plus there’s a whole new chapter of relieving the mental stress.

It seems everyone has an opinion when it comes to exercising when pregnant and while some of these may seem like ‘no brainers’ and apply to anyone, they are super important when you are pregnant. The type and intensity of training is different for everyone and depends on various factors. But here are some safety tips as a guide for you, BUT always consult your doctor prior to commencing.

  • Keep Cool
    It can be dangerous for bubs if your temperature rises too much so:

- Avoid exercising in the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest, or, take your workout indoors;

- Wear lightweight, loose clothing that allows you to breathe and soak up the sweat quickly;

- Make sure you are hydrated prior to your workout and continue drinking water throughout your workout;

- Slap on the sunscreen. When pregnant you have increased production of melanin which means you will burn quicker.

  • Monitor Intensity

- Heart Rate monitoring is a thing of the past, as doctors now prefer women to use the Rate of Perceived Exertion. But i’d say still go out with a heart rate monitor watch. It’s cheap, easy to read and gives you a good idea of when to stop. You should be able to carry out a conversation while training and not gasping for breath;

- Do use a heart rate monitor but rather to track your heart rate as opposed to relying on it;

- Check the colour of your face – is it flushed and red? If it is, drop your intensity;

- Do you not push your workouts to extreme and this is not the time to try out something new – stick to what you know.

  • Hydration & Food

Yep! Here we go again. BUT it is SO important to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise. Your blood volume increases when you are pregnant and needs more fluids to maintain it. Also, humidity is renowned for causing dehydration so always keep that bottled water close.

Coconut water after a workout is also a good option, as it will provide you with much-needed nutrients and carbs you need to replace.

Small and frequent meals including salads and veggies are recommended by the ACSM, which will help “minimise the discomfort during exercise”. And have a snack immediately after you workout – full of good fats, protein and carbs.

Great options for exercising when pregnant:

  • Swimming and water aerobics– cools you off and takes the weight off.
  • Stationary bike – great for when your centre of gravity is being tested/
  • Indoors – Air-con room, need I say more?
  • Pre natal yoga class (not the hot ones) – they know the do’s and don’ts.
  • Just using stairs as a workout is a great way to make your legs stronger.
  • Weight bearing exercise is thought to be safe as long as its comfortable but avoid heavy weightlifting.
  • Low impact aerobics using at-home DVDs.

Remember to always skip your workout if you are nauseous, super tired or feeling weak, dizzy or tired.

Follows these safety tips with your doctor’s guidelines and there is no reason why training has to stop!

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