It has been pretty chilly in the Denver Metro area, with snow coming and going frequently enough to keep a reliable layer of ice and snow on shady side streets and trails. Getting outside for sunlight and exercise is important for physical and mental health, even when it’s cold. Luckily for us in Colorado, sunlight is abundant, even in the winter months. But outdoor exercise can be a little tricky in the winter, and especially so during pregnancy. We’ve put together a few suggestions to exercise safely through the cold months.
Dress in Layers
As of this writing, morning temperatures have been in the high teens to mid-twenties – temperatures which require a winter coat and layers. For some, it can seem like a tall order to invest in a winter coat that will fit your pregnant body, so you may consider purchasing a used coat in a thrift store, or borrowing one from a friend or family member.
In addition to a good coat, you’ll want to have a few layers underneath. At a minimum, it’s a good idea to wear the equivalent of a long-sleeved t-shirt (or two) and hoodie under your coat so that you can take off your coat if you become too warm.
Warm tights under sweats or yoga pants, or thermal pants alone will help keep your bottom half warm. Stretchy pants can be worn under the belly, and held up with the help of a belly band, if needed (which adds an additional layer of warmth, as well.)
Don’t forget a scarf, hat and gloves – the air can be biting to our fingers and ears, especially if there is a breeze.
choose a safe outdoor exercise
Walking is always a great choice for pregnancy, but when there is snow and ice on the ground, it becomes more challenging, especially when the walker has an unwieldy pregnant belly to throw them off balance. Be sure you are wearing good shoes for winter walking, that are water resistant and have good treads. For snowy walks, you may want to consider attaching traction cleats to your shoes to help you grip the icy spots better. Keep your eyes open and avoid ice whenever you can – remember that ice can hide on asphalt.
Hiking is also a fantastic pregnancy exercise, but during snowy months, you probably want to stick to pretty flat trails so as not to risk slipping on a downhill icy spot. Good hiking shoes and traction cleats are a must.
Snowshoeing and cross-county skiing are also fun and low-risk exercises in pregnancy. Again, make sure to stick to flat trails, and dress in layers.
Any time you are hitting the trails, make sure you know your route, and that others know where you will be. Snow can be a little disorienting even on familiar trails, so pay attention to your surroundings. Carry snacks and water, and make sure you are well-prepared for the weather and temperatures.
As with any exercise, please check with your midwife or doctor before you start anything new, and listen to your body. If something hurts, don’t do it. If you do have a fall during exercise (honestly, pregnant people can fall down under the best of weather circumstances – it’s a hazard of being off-balance), make sure to give your healthcare provider a call. Though small falls normally don’t cause harm, you’ll want to double check that all is well with you and baby after any impact.