Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

Staying cool in the summer heat

Friday, May 27th, 2016

sunBeing pregnant during the summer can be tough. Pregnancy already causes your body temperature to be a little bit higher than normal. Adding high outside temperatures and humidity can make you feel really uncomfortable.

Here are some tips to help as the summer approaches:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Water is the best choice. Avoid drinks that are high in sugar because they can make you even more dehydrated.
  • If you are exercising outside, try to do so in the morning or evening, when it’s not as hot. Swimming is excellent option for pregnant women. But if the air quality is bad or you have asthma, try to stay indoors.
  • Your skin is more sensitive when you’re pregnant so it’s very important to use sunscreen. A broad-spectrum (protects against UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher is the best choice. And make sure you reapply it regularly, especially after swimming or sweating.
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat to protect not only your face, but ears and neck. Baseball caps don’t protect as well. And don’t forget your sunglasses! They should block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Dark colors absorb more heat.
  • Heat can make swelling worse. If you experience swelling in your legs and ankles, avoid standing for long periods of time and try to elevate your feet when sitting or lying down.
  • If you do feel overheated, apply a cool damp cloth to your forehead and back of the neck.
  • If you feel weak, dizzy, or lightheaded, or you’re overly thirsty, stop what you are doing and get inside immediately. Drink some cool water or a sports drink and lie down. If you feel worse or if you don’t feel better within an hour, call your health care provider.
  • Be aware of signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and contact your health care provider right away if you have any symptoms.

By taking the appropriate precautions to deal with the heat, you can have a fun and enjoyable summer.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

The holidays are here…

Monday, December 7th, 2015

pregnant woman in bedBesides the usual stress of pregnancy and getting ready for your baby, the holidays often add more pressure, which can take a toll on your health. Feeling stressed is common during pregnancy, but too much can make you have trouble sleeping, have headaches or lose your appetite. High levels of stress that continue for a long time may cause health problems like high blood pressure, which can increase the chances of having a premature baby.

December is a very busy time: there are friends and families to see, holiday gatherings to attend, meals to cook, and gifts to buy. So much to do! During this time, remember to take care of yourself: breathe deeply, relax and concentrate on your pregnancy.

Here are some tips:

  • Keep moving. Exercise can help reduce your stress and prevent pregnancy discomforts. If you are shopping for gifts, walk an extra loop around the mall before you head out to your car. Park further away in the parking lot (this way you can also avoid some of the traffic of shoppers trying to park close to the mall entrance).
  • Holidays are a time for delicious desserts and heavy meals. Before you sit down and indulge in your family dinner, eat a healthy breakfast and lunch earlier in the day.
  • Extra sleep is important during this time, but taking breaks is just as important. If you have some free time between wrapping gifts, put your feet up, read a book or magazine, or watch a favorite TV show. Even just a 15 minute break can help you relax before your next task.
  • Ask for help. Holidays are a time of giving, but also receiving. Accept help when a friend or family member offers and ask for help when you are feeling tired or overwhelmed.
  • Cut back on activities you don’t need to do. Instead of spending time making a holiday dessert, why not have your favorite bakery do it for you?

Holidays can be stressful, but remember to take time for yourself.

Have questions? Email AskUs@marchofdimes.org

Moving through pregnancy: tips to stay active

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Pregnant woman walkingMoving, staying active and gaining the right amount of weight during pregnancy can help keep you and your baby healthy. For most women, being active during pregnancy is a good thing. But you don’t need to head to the gym to increase activity. With a few daily changes to your routine, you’ll be moving more in no time.

Healthy pregnant women need at least 2½ hours of exercise each week which is about 30 minutes each day. This may sound like a lot, but don’t worry. You don’t have to do it all at once. Instead, get moving by doing a few minutes of activity throughout your day.

Here are some tips to help you reach your fitness goals:

  • Park farther away in the parking lot when you visit stores or go grocery shopping.
  • Set a timer on your phone to get up, stretch and walk around your house or office once every hour.
  • If you are watching TV, take the time to stretch out your arms and legs.
  • Walk and talk while you are on the phone, whether it be outside or around your house.
  • When walking around the office, grocery store or parking lot, walk the long way instead of taking shortcuts.
  • Plan fun outdoor weekend activities. Apple picking season is in full-swing – take a walk around the orchard while you pick some apples.
  • Skip the elevator and take the stairs.
  • Calling or emailing your co-worker at work? Get up and take a walk over to chat instead.

Tomorrow is National Women’s Health and Fitness Day. The goal is “to encourage women to take control of their health; to learn the facts they need to make smart healthy choices, and to make time for regular physical activity.” By making small changes to your day, you can reach your fitness goals. Be on the lookout for events planned in your local area.

Read our article to understand why physical activity is good for most pregnant women and to learn which activities are safe.

Staying active during pregnancy – winter edition

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Staying active in the winterBbrrr it’s cold outside and those warm blankets on the couch are calling my name. It’s tough to get motivated to go outside and be active during these cold and snowy days of winter. I want to stay under the blankets! But for healthy pregnant women, exercise can keep your heart, body and mind healthy.

Healthy pregnant women need at least 2.5 hours of being active each week. This is about 30 minutes each day. If this sounds like a lot, don’t worry. You don’t have to do it all at once. Instead, do something active for 10 minutes three times a day.

Stay safe

The safety of any activity depends on your health and fitness level. Not all pregnant women should exercise, especially if you have a condition such as heart or lung disease. As each woman and pregnancy is different, it is essential that you check with your prenatal health care provider first before engaging in any fitness program. The information provided here is meant as a guide.

How to get started

Pick things you like, such as walking, swimming, hiking or dancing. Brisk walking for 30 minutes or more is an excellent way to get the aerobic benefits of exercise, and you don’t need to join a health club or buy any special equipment. There are a variety of activities that you can participate in throughout your pregnancy.

Try an indoor class such as a low-impact aerobics class taught by a certified aerobics instructor. You can also try a yoga class designed for pregnant women. If you have a gym membership already, walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes. I usually go to the gym when my favorite TV show is on so I can walk and watch at the same time. Swimming is also a great way to get your heart rate up, and the water feels great, especially as your belly grows. See if a YM/YWCA or other community club near you has a pool.  If the weather outside is moderate and the sidewalks are clear, bundle up and head out for a walk in the fresh air. Staying home, though, may be the only way to avoid all the snow and freezing temperatures, so go ahead and turn on your favorite music and dance around your house or get moving to a DVD from the library. You can even add light resistance bands to help you maintain strength and flexibility. With any activity, remember to drink water to stay hydrated.

What to avoid

You should avoid any activities that put you at high risk for injury, such as downhill skiing. Stay away from sports in which you could get hit in the belly, such as kickboxing or soccer and any sport that has a lot of jerky, bouncing movements. After the third month of pregnancy, avoid exercises that make you lie flat on your back as it can limit the flow of blood to your baby. Also, avoid sit-ups or crunches.

Be aware

When you exercise, pay attention to how you feel. If you suddenly start feeling out of breath or overly tired, listen to your body and slow down or stop your activity. If you have any serious problems, such as vaginal bleeding, dizziness, headaches or chest pain, stop exercising and contact your health care provider right away.

Final tips

Exercise is cumulative – meaning every little bit of activity in a day adds up to the total that you need. Being active in small chunks of time, several times a day is a great way to get your activity quota in. Use tricks such as parking farther away in a parking lot and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Pretty soon you will meet your optimal daily activity level and you will feel more energized.

For more information on exercise during pregnancy, visit our website.

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Monday, September 15th, 2014

family playing soccerThere are many things you can do at home to help your child lead an active, healthy life. September provides an opportunity to raise awareness and to get your family moving. Whether your child is at school or home, you can look for ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle for your entire family.

Small changes can make a huge impact. Try things like keeping TVs and computers out of your child’s bedroom or choosing a video game that encourages physical activity instead of one that allows him to sit on the couch. You can also encourage your child to be active by taking a family walk after dinner. Incorporating these small adjustments into your family’s daily routine can make a big difference in your child’s health and well-being.

Things you can do at home:

• Provide plenty of fruits and vegetables, limit foods high in fat and sugars, and prepare family meals at home instead of eating out.

• Serve your family water.

• Pack your child a well-balanced lunch for school.

• Limit computer/TV time to no more than one to two hours hours per day, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Less screen time means more play time.

• Try to keep your child on a sleep schedule; sleep loss can lead to fatigue and increased snacking.

• Look for events happening in your community that promote healthy eating or physical activity.

• Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you have concerns. Although they account for very few cases, certain metabolic disorders or hormonal imbalances can cause weight gain.

For more information on what you can do to decrease childhood obesity, visit here.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Click here to read more News Moms Need blog posts on: pregnancy, pre-pregnancy, infant and child care, help for your child with delays or disabilities, and other hot topics.

Your body after baby

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

young-woman-walkingKate, the Duchess of Cambridge, looked radiant as she presented her little Prince to the world for a first glimpse. You may have noticed her baby bump. It begs the question…what happens to your body after you give birth?

Lots of things are happening to your body right after you give birth, especially for the first 6 weeks! Your body is changing again. Some of these changes are painless; others may be uncomfortable.

During pregnancy, your uterus grows to hold your growing baby. After your baby is born, your uterus shrinks back to its regular size. But, it takes some time for your belly to get back to its regular shape after pregnancy. It took time to gain the weight and it will take time to lose it. But don’t get discouraged! Be active and eat healthy foods to help you lose the baby weight. Start slowly, perhaps with a daily walk, and listen to your body as you gradually become more active. And, be sure to ask your provider if you have any issues that you need to be aware of before you increase your activity or begin to exercise.

If you had swelling while pregnant, it may take a while for it to go away after giving birth. Lie on your left side or put your feet up. Stay cool and wear loose clothes.

Your breasts swell, too, as they fill with milk. This is called engorgement, and it can be painful. Once you start breastfeeding, the swelling should go away. If you’re not breastfeeding, it may last until your breasts stop making milk.

Breastfeeding your baby helps your body, too. It increases the amount of a hormone in your body called oxytocin. This helps your uterus (womb) go back to the size it was before you got pregnant. It also helps stop bleeding that you have after giving birth. And, it burns extra calories. This helps you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight more quickly.

Many women feel unprepared for postpartum health issues. For instance, many experience breastfeeding problems, hair loss, hemorrhoids, mood swings, and anxiety. Not all women have these problems, but they are fairly common. All the physical changes and demands of your new baby can make you really emotional, too. Feeling stressed and tired all the time are common for new moms. Some women have the baby blues for a few days after giving birth. If these sad feelings last longer than 10 days, tell your provider. You may need to be checked for postpartum depression.

Remember, it’s normal to feel some discomfort, like soreness and fatigue, as your body heals after giving birth. However, other discomforts and health problems may be a sign that you need medical care. Know the warning signs and be sure to seek help when you need it.

In time, your body should return to “normal.” Every woman is different – there is no one time clock or standard that you should compare yourself to. If you know what to expect, give yourself time and are patient, you will find that it will happen. In the meantime, enjoy every luscious moment with your little prince or princess!

Pregnancy – not an excuse to stop exercising

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

bikingSome women think that pregnancy is a time to sit back and put their feet up. Not so! For most women, it’s important to exercise during pregnancy. In fact, it has many health benefits, so put down the remote, step out of your office and tie up your sneakers.

Healthy pregnant women need at least 2½ hours of exercise each week. This is about 30 minutes each day. If this sounds like a lot, don’t worry. You don’t have to do it all at once. Instead, split up your exercise by doing something active for 10 minutes three times each day. Take Fido for his morning constitutional. Walk around the block or parking lot with friends on your lunch hour. Go for a walk or bike ride after dinner to pick up a decaf at the local café or to check out the neighborhood gardens. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring.

For healthy pregnant women, exercise can:
• Keep your heart, body and mind healthy
• Help you feel good and find the extra energy you need
• Help you stay fit and gain the right amount of weight during pregnancy
• Ease some of the discomforts you might have during pregnancy, like constipation, backaches, trouble sleeping and varicose veins (swollen veins)
• Prevent health problems like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes
• Help your body get ready to give birth
• Reduce stress

If you’d rather keep going to the gym, you probably can. With their health care provider’s OK, exercising during pregnancy is safe for most expecting moms and their babies. So talk to your doc or midwife before you start any exercise program, and ask about what kinds of exercise are safe for you to do.

When exercise isn’t a good idea

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

pregnant-exerciseMany women want to get into really good shape before having a baby. This is an excellent idea, because you don’t want to diet or start a new and aggressive exercise routine when you’re pregnant. Start a healthy habit now.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy pregnant women get at least 2 1/2 hours of aerobic exercise every week. This means that most pregnant women should try to get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most, if not all, days. Go for it, exercise during pregnancy and stay fit.

BUT, If you have any of the conditions below, do not exercise. Check with your health care provider.

• Heart disease
• Lung disease
• Incompetent cervix: The cervix is the narrow, outer end of the uterus. If it is weak, it cannot hold the fetus in the uterus.
• Preterm labor (before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy)
• Multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets or more) at risk for preterm labor
• Frequent bleeding from the vagina during months 4-9 of pregnancy
• Placenta previa: The placenta connects the baby’s blood supply to the mother’s blood. Attached to the mother’s uterus, it is an unborn baby’s lifeline. Placenta previa is a low-lying placenta that covers part or all of the cervix. This can block the baby’s exit from the uterus.
• Hypertension

Remember, if you experience any symptoms of a problem, or your’e just not sure, stop exercising and call you doc right away.

Exercise During Pregnancy

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Dr. Siobhan Dolan talks about how exercise can help women have a healthy pregnancy and which exercises are safe during pregnancy.

An unpleasant part of pregnancy

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

woman-walking1Pregnancy is usually a wonderful time in a woman’s life. But, unfortunately, there are certain changes that many women experience that are bothersome or even painful. Constipation is a fairly common complaint during pregnancy. Constipation is when you have difficulty having a bowel movement, or do not have one for several days. It can be due to your diet, changing hormones, too much iron in a vitamin pill, or from the pressure of your baby. Whatever the cause, it is not fun.

Here are some tips that may help with constipation:

• Drink more water.
• Avoid caffeine.
• Choose plenty of fiber-rich foods, including fruits, raw veggies, beans and whole grains.
• Juices, such as prune juice, can help, too.
• Move more and sit less. Regular activity, such as walking, can help a lot.
• Ask your prenatal health care provider if you can switch to a different prenatal vitamin (perhaps one with low or no iron).

Pregnant women who suffer from constipation often have hemorrhoids, too. These are painful and itchy enlarged veins in the rectal area. Constipation can make these swollen, itchy veins worse. Talk to your doctor about using creams and suppositories to provide relief. But, do not take laxatives or mineral oil unless our doctor prescribes them. The tips to relieve constipation (above) will also help with hemorhoids. You can read more about this uncomfortable aspect of pregnancy on our website.

To learn more about healthy eating during pregnancy,visit our website.

Hopefully, with a little more attention to your diet and lifestyle, you will feel much better.