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Safe Prenatal Exercise: How to Stay Active Through the Hot Summer Months

Safe Prenatal Exercise: How to Stay Active Through the Hot Summer Months

If you’re pregnant, you’re already dealing with weight, balance, and stamina issues, so why would you want to incorporate exercise into your daily routine, especially during the hot summer months Texas is famous for?

Because, as board-certified OB/GYN Dr. Hany H Ahmed says, exercise is part of staying healthy, and when you’re pregnant, you have to stay healthy for two. Here are his recommendations for safe prenatal exercise no matter the time of year.

Benefits of exercise

For any person, exercise strengthens the muscles, keeps bones strong, lowers the risk of severe cardiac events and stroke, boosts the immune system, leads to better sleep and mood, and decreases stress levels.

When you’re pregnant, exercise does exactly these same things, which is even more important because physical problems in the mother can lead to developmental problems in the fetus.

By adopting a safe prenatal exercise routine, women can also reduce their risks of developing high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. Plus, the activity can help build the stamina needed to get through the hours of labor and birth.

So, the question isn’t should you exercise but how should you exercise, especially if the weather’s hot?

How to stay active while pregnant

Here are some tips for staying active through the hot summer months.

Keep it balanced

As your pregnancy progresses, your center of gravity shifts forward to keep you a bit off-balance. That isn’t the time to try new and exciting moves. Stick to exercises you know how to do well, so you won’t be prone to falling.

Master the stairs

When it’s too hot to go out, walking up and down the stairs in your house for 20 minutes is a great way to fit in some strength training. As your weight grows, your legs need to be stronger to support you, and stair walking is a great low-tech choice.

Avoid the heat

On hot, humid summer afternoons, you should definitely look for indoor exercise options.

Babies exposed to excessive heat don’t develop as well as those who aren’t, which is why pregnant women are advised not to use hot tubs and saunas. If you must go outside, exercise early in the morning or around dusk when the air isn’t so suffocating.

It’s also possible to overheat indoors, especially in a group fitness class, so be mindful of how you feel. If you’re flushed, cool it down a notch. That’s especially true of yoga. 

Many people believe yoga and pregnancy go hand-in-hand, but there are caveats. You should only go to a prenatal class, as it’ll be specific to your needs, maybe changing a pose to accommodate your growing body or keeping the room cool instead of trying to make you sweat.

Try these four types of exercise

These four exercise options are ideal for pregnant women:

  1. Walking: a great year-round exercise; if it’s too hot outside, use a treadmill
  2. Low-impact aerobics: a great cardiovascular workout without jumping or fancy footwork
  3. Water aerobics: lower-impact aerobics with even less risk of injury with water’s buoyancy
  4. Recumbent bike: balance not required; seek a bike with a wide chair and backrest

Never, though, do an exercise, like crunches, that has you flat on your back. After the first trimester, the weight of the fetus puts too much pressure on important blood vessels, causing lightheadedness or fainting.

Pilates, too, may not be ideal, unless the instructor is teaching a prenatal class. Ordinary Pilates classes have too much on-your-back time for pregnant women.

Want more tips on prenatal exercise? Need an OB/GYN to help you see your pregnancy through? Schedule an appointment with the office of Hany H Ahmed, MD. Call our office in Houston, Texas, or book online with us today.

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