Summer running is challenging enough. When you’re running for two, summer running can become even more difficult. Your motivation may be low, you might be uncomfortable, and you will likely feel more sensitive to the heat. However, with the right approach, summer running during pregnancy is possible!
Whether you are running or cross-training, staying fit during pregnancy will benefit both you and your baby. Exercising during pregnancy reduces the risk of complications such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia, boosts your mood and energy levels, minimizes pregnancy symptoms such as leg cramps and constipation, and prepares you for childbirth. Your baby will have a lower risk of diabetes and childhood obesity, have healthier hearts, and even better cognitive function.
You do want to be cautious when exercising in the summer heat and humidity. Overheating is a risk, so you want to err on the side of caution. That doesn’t mean you have to give up running or exercise in summer when pregnant. These tips can help with summer running during pregnancy.
(Always consult your OB when exercising during pregnancy. Never run through pain during pregnancy. If you begin to overheat, stop your workout.)
Cross-Train When It’s Extremely Hot
There is established guideline of “don’t exercise if it’s x degrees outside” for pregnancy. Your tolerance to heat, the stage of your pregnancy, and the humidity are all factors for what you can handle. How you feel in the heat is your best guide.
If it feels uncomfortably hot, opt for the treadmill or cross-train. Cycling (yes, it’s okay for a pregnant woman to cycle), hiking, and even walking are great options if you still want fresh air. You can also swim, pool run, or use the elliptical if you have access to a gym.
The direct sun will make you feel overly hot, especially if you are running on asphalt or concrete. If possible, seek shade on your runs. The coverage makes a difference in how comfortable you will feel! Some women experience more sensitive skin during pregnancy, so shade provides a bit of extra protection from sunburns as well.
Additionally, try to run earlier in the morning or later in the evening to avoid full sun. The morning and evening after often cooler as well.
During pregnancy, your blood volume increases. With the increase in blood volume, you need more fluids to stay hydrated, especially in summer. Even though the need for frequent bathroom breaks can make it tempting to skimp on fluids, you want to be well hydrated for summer runs. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, take in electrolytes (such as Nuun), and carry water with you on runs.
Scale Back Duration and Intensity
Hard workouts are possible during pregnancy, but they are not advisable during the heat of summer. Scale your runs back to an easy intensity. The combination of heat and pregnancy will mean you are running much slower than normal, so don’t worry about pace. Focus on your breathing, aiming for a conversational, comfortable effort.
On very hot days, shorten the duration of your run. Thirty minutes is all you need to reap the benefits of exercise during pregnancy. And any runner knows that even a short run is better than no run at all!
You can use run/walk intervals to keep your effort under control in the heat. Run/walk intervals also reduce the impact on the body, which can be beneficial if you are running into your third trimester. You can use structure run/walk intervals (such as run one mile, walk 30-60 seconds) or walk whenever you feel too warm or tired.
The hormones of pregnancy raise your body temperature, putting you at higher risk for overheating in summer. The right gear is vital for summer running during pregnancy. Lightweight pieces, wicking materials, and light colors will keep you cool. Opt for flowy, wicking tanks tops in light colors, comfortable shorts, a belly band, and a brimmed hat to help you stay comfortable and cool. If it’s extra hot, try spritzing your top and hat with water before heading out the door.
What helps you survive summer running?
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