Summer Safety Tips: How to Exercise in the Heat

How to continue your workout plan all summer long.


Most of us love the summertime, um, until we're pregnant. What used to just feel like a pretty warm and sticky day often feels a lot more intense for a hot soon-to-be mama. Feeling warmer than usual and sweating more isn't in your head, blame hormonal changes and an increase in blood supply to the skin throughout pregnancy. If you're already sweating while you're brushing your teeth, how are you going to make it through your workouts this summer? Don't fret. If you feel up to it, you can still continue to exercise during the hot summer months by making some modifications.

We talked to Jessica Matthews, exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise, and Andrea Metcalf, celebrity fitness expert and healthy lifestyle spokesperson for, for their top five tips on how to stay safe all summer long. Remember to talk to your doctor about whether it's still safe for you to exercise and how to modify your routine to keep you and your baby as safe as possible.

See more: Exercise guidelines for pregnant women

1. Avoid high heat times of day for outdoor workouts

This seems like a no-brainer but know that the lunchtime run or walk you used to do is probably going to have to be rescheduled to the morning or late evening if you want to get outside and temps are soaring or it's very humid. For many pregnant women, humidity can lead you to feel tired more quickly.

The American College of Sports Medicine advises pregnant women "avoid high heat and humidity to protect against heat stress, especially during the first trimester." Otherwise, take your midday workouts into an air-conditioned environment. Also, be aware that high pollen times are in the morning so if asthma is an issue, work out later in the day, suggest Metcalf.

2. Make sure you're hydrated well before exercising

Yes, you've heard this a million times but it's even more important now that there are two of you, and you've got heat and humidity in play. By the time you actually feel thirsty, your body is already in a 1 to 2% dehydrated state, says Matthews.

Outdoor exercise during the summer increases the risk of dehydration, so it's imperative to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise. General hydration guidelines recommend that individuals consume at least 17-20 ounces of water two to three hours before exercise, 7-10 ounces of fluid every 10-20 minutes during exercise, and after exercise consume 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound of bodyweight lost during exercise. So jump on the scale and note your weight before and after your workout to make sure you're as hydrated as you should be after exercising.

Metcalf says you might want to hydrate with coconut water (which lacks sodium but has many other nutrients your body needs replaced after a workout) or low-calorie (not zero-calorie) sports drinks. "You need carbs because that's the first fuel you'll use up when you exercise. Refueling with some carbs like those in sports drinks is important," she says.

3. Lighten up your workout duds

"Heat dissipation is of the utmost importance throughout pregnancy, and environmental considerations, adequate hydration, and appropriate clothing should be priorities to prevent the possibility of hyperthermia and the corresponding risk to the fetus," says Matthews. When it comes to apparel, opt for light-colored clothing made out of lightweight synthetic or polyester materials that will dry quickly and help to wick away moisture, allowing for regulation of core body temperature.

See more: Maternity workout wear

4. Always wear sunscreen when exercising outdoors

Skin can be particularly sensitive to products when you're pregnant--more so than when you're not, but remember that sunscreen is a must for outdoor activities. Sunglasses should be worn to protect your eyes and a hat with a large brim is always a good idea to help shade your face.

5. Put on your heart rate monitor—and closely monitor it!

The general rule of thumb is still keeping your heart rate below 140 BPM (beats per minute) during cardio workouts, but be mindful of your heart rate during lower intensity activities as well in the summer, advises Metcalf. "Biking, swimming and yoga may not produce a big sweat but may increase heart rate and blood pressure, so training monitors and using perceived levels of exertion throughout your workout should be considered," she says. Metcalf says she likes the Garmin Swim Watch heart rate monitor for water workouts.

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