Exercising and coping with increased body heat in pregnancy
By Eziaha Bolaji-Olojo,
If you think the weather is hot, you should get some perspectives from a pregnant woman, especially in the latter half of pregnancy. In addition to the other niggles and relative inconveniences it may bring, pregnancy also increases the amount of heat a woman feels internally and emits externally especially via her sweat glands. Simply put, a woman sweats more when she is pregnant especially if second and third trimester meets her in the hot seasons.
As pregnancy progresses, the rate of metabolism and fat burning in the body even without exercising also increases, manifesting in faster heat emission externally. Metabolic changes, how the body breaks down food to create energy for the growing and developing fetus, plays a role in increased sweating. Also in the extra blood volume and body fat which is needed to provide extra insulation for the woman’s changing body. The placenta which helps in the exchange of oxygen, blood, and nutrients between the mother and fetus generates heat as it carries out its vital functions. All of these, and more makes a pregnant woman even hotter.
And the sweating, is necessary because it provides a conduit for all that internally generated heat to find outward expression, guarding against internal body stress and possible shock. It is important to note that all these happen even when a pregnant woman is at rest. For a pregnant woman who exercises, the sweating is even more.
While there may not be much to be done against these biological processes within the body, a pregnant woman who is also exercising can help manage her body heat by putting a few measures in place both for her convenience and safety. The most important tip is to stay hydrated at all times, especially when working out.
An expectant mum needs to drink more water than a non-pregnant one. Always have a bottle of water with you and don’t stop drinking. The chore of having to pee is far less disturbing than dealing with increased internal body heat. Water, even at room temperature, cools the body from within. You probably understand why it is safe for a pregnant woman to drink cold water.
There is nothing wrong with cold water so long as there are no conditions that contraindicate it, and you can actually keep it down without feelings of nausea. On a personal note, I had no issues drinking cold water because that was what I preferred especially as I consistently worked out and felt hot most of the time.
Take frequent water breaks while working out. When not actively expending energy via physical activity and at rest, keep hydrating. When you wake up at night to use the bathroom, have a glass of water too. Another important way to manage body heat when working out is your location. Taking a walk outdoors in favourable weather is a great way to cool down as you sweat. Some pregnant women even love to work out in the rain. Take advantage of the cool breeze of the early mornings or late evenings.
If working out indoors, ensure the place is well aerated whether naturally by opening windows, or artificially with cooling devices like fans and air conditioners. If you use a gym, you can ask for a fan be stationed in a way that favors you primarily for the time you spend there.
Also, your workout clothing is very important. Except the weather is cold, avoid hoods and slacks made from thick cotton material. Shorts. A firm sports bra and a light and loose-fitting top will keep you comfortable through a workout. If at home and have some privacy, it is ok to dress as minimally as possible.
Finally, a couple of fruits help keep you feeling hydrated as their water content is very high. Fruits like watermelon, oranges (also a perfect post-workout snack), cucumbers, pineapples, and more. Most of them are low in sugar and calories and so make a great snack at any time of the day. Be generous in consumption while junk and sugary drinks should be minimal.Notwithstanding, the best source of information for a pregnant woman is her doctor who has her medical history, and should always be carried along before any extra information is implemented by her.
Credit: The Guardian