When I was pregnant and working out in the gym, I would station the giant fan meant for three treadmills on myself. It may have seemed selfish at the time but, thankfully, my fellow gym users indulged me. Pregnancy lets you get away with many things, but I wasn’t just being selfish. Apart from the external heat I was generating as a result of the workout, I felt hot on the inside due to the pregnancy. I needed that giant fan stationed on me, abeg, before I fainted.
When a woman is pregnant, her Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) increases—i.e how much energy (read, heat) her body generates for its normal functioning, even if she stays in bed ALL DAY and eats Agbalumo or Strawberries.
This is a result of certain factors:
- Extra Blood Volume. The amount of blood in a pregnant woman’s body increases by as much as 40%. This helps her cope with the needs of the very demanding fetus. (Yes mom, my demands start right from the womb). The extra blood means an increase in core body temperature.
- Increased load on your body, especially as the pregnancy progresses. Imagine having to carry an extra 2 to 4 kg everywhere without taking a break. No wonder you are not just hot, but also tired.
- Extra body fat which equals extra insulation, and then extra heat generation (Yes, fat makes you hotter).
And several other factors including energy expended in transporting nutrients, waste and more between feto-placental units. My sister, even if all you had to do was lie in bed while pregnant, you are working hard already.
However, if you are not on bed rest, and are having what my Obstetrician Gynecologist calls ‘an uneventful pregnancy’, it is advisable and safe to add a little intentional physical activity to your daily routine. But the implication of this is that, with an increase in physical activity, internal heat generation also increases. So, very quickly, I’ll lead you through some precautions to take to avoid increased body heat during pregnancy. The implications of heat may lead to dizziness, fainting, and in extreme cases, premature contractions.
But before I delve into them, please note that the pregnancy period is not the time to try out new and fancy workout routines. It is not the time for those exercises designed for calorie burning and weight loss. No, my sister, prenatal workouts are not to help you lose weight. They are to help you have a healthy and optimal body system all through pregnancy. It is best and safe to continue with what you have been doing (at a reduced intensity of course). Otherwise, begin any other prenatally safe workouts. And while the jury is still out on what is safe, everyone agrees that walking is the safest exercise a pregnant woman can do.
Ok, here are those precautions…
- Free Up
Keep your dressing light and fuss-free. If you are going to the gym and the weather is cold, then wear layers as opposed to a hoodie. That way, as your body temperature rises, you can easily peel off the layers. If you are working out at home, a sports bra alone is just fine for your upper body.
- Cool Up
Keep the environment cool and/or well ventilated. If you have the luxury of a cooling system, utilize and maximize it. If what is available is a fan, have it stationed on you. Where neither is available at the time, have all the windows open and allow cross-ventilation. You could also consider working out outside.
- Drink Up
Stay hydrated. Water should be every Preggo’s best friend. And I mean water inside, and outside. Yes, feel free to splash water on your face, wrists, and body if you feel like it. Also, drink up at various times during your workout. If anyone complains, splash some on them too. Don’t forget to jump in and enjoy a cool shower right after your workout.
- Break Up
Take occasional breaks. When I train non-pregnant clients who want to lose weight, I tell them not to rest for longer than 15 seconds. I may or may not be known to say that it is ok to feel like your heart is about to explode. However, with my preggos, I tell them to stop and rest at the slightest sign of exhaustion. If you are not able to carry out the ‘Talk test’, that is, holding a normal conversation while you workout, you are going too fast. Stop and rest before you continue, if you have to.
- Listen Up
Listen to your body. Remember, at the end of the day, no one knows you more than you do. So be sure to stop as soon as your body tells you to.
I hope these five tips help and encourage you to add some physical activity to your days even while pregnant, regardless of the heat. Pregnancy is not the time to lie in bed all day without any reason. 30 to 45 minutes of light to moderate physical activity five times a week will do your body and baby a world of good. If you haven’t yet done so, catch up on last week’sFit Friday columnon the effects of exercise on fertility and pregnancy.
Eziaha Bolaji-Olojo(CoachE’) is a Food&Fitness Coach, and is CEO at CoachE’Squad Ltd, where she helps women live optimised lives through a healthy food and fitness routine. She is a UK certified Personal Nutritionist, and a Prenatal & Postnatal Fitness Specialist. Eziaha is a Jesus Chick, enjoys godly friendships and adores her assignment as a wife and mom to two boys. When she is not coaching, you can catch her blogging atwww.eziaha.com.