Running in pregnancy
If you were a regular runner before your pregnancy then it’s safe to continue for as long as you find comfortable. However, if you’ve never run or jogged before, it’s best not to start running in pregnancy.
If you’re not used to running
Your joints won’t be used to the impact of running. But there are lots of low-impact exercises you can, such as walking briskly, stationary cycling or swimming.
If you ran before your pregnancy
If you’re used to running or jogging and want to continue in pregnancy, there are lots of benefits. For example, it’s an excellent workout for your heart and lungs.
The aim should be to keep your current level of fitness in pregnancy, rather than training to get a personal best in a race. You also need to be aware of overheating, so steady running is preferable to high intensity interval training.
Don’t forget to warm up and cool down before and after exercising in pregnancy. If you are a professional athlete, talk to your trainer or coach about adapting your exercise routines for pregnancy.
As with any aerobic exercise in pregnancy, check you can pass the 'talk test'. If you can’t get through a sentence or you’re gasping for breath, ease up.
Running and your changing body in pregnancy
Running can be tough on your joints even when you’re not pregnant. During pregnancy, the hormone relaxin means your joints start to loosen. And this means there’s a greater chance of injury, so follow the tips below for safe running in pregnancy.
As your bump grows, your balance may be affected by your changing centre of gravity, so it’s a good idea to run on even ground to reduce the risk of falling. If you usually run off-road, stick to the paths if the ground is uneven. You could also use a running track or a treadmill in the gym for keeping fit in pregnancy.
You do not need to worry about your growing baby being bumped up and down as you run. They are very secure within your womb, and may even find the motion comforting.
Running in the third trimester
In the third trimester you will probably find that your pace slows down naturally as your bump gets bigger. Listen to your body and if you’re exhausted, take it easy.
If you have any unusual pains while running in pregnancy, stop exercising immediately and contact your doctor or midwife.
Tips for safe pregnancy running
- Wear supportive running shoes
- Wear a proper running bra
- Focus on really good technique rather than a fast pace
- Look where you’re going so you avoid falling or colliding with anything
- Don’t run yourself to exhaustion
- Drink plenty of water.
It’s important to avoid running in the heat during pregnancy, especially in the first 12 weeks, because overheating could potentially harm your baby.
Can running cause a miscarriage or premature birth?
Running in pregnancy has not been shown to cause miscarriage or premature birth. However, if you have been told you are at risk of having a premature birth, talk to your doctor before starting any exercise in pregnancy.
What about training for races in pregnancy?
If you do any safe sport at performance level, you can carry on training in pregnancy if your doctor is happy that you’re well enough. It’s important to talk to your coach or trainer about how your pregnancy will affect your training and about any changes you need to make. Ask to see an obstetrician who specialises in pregnancy and sport.
Make sure you eat well and drink plenty of fluids, and avoid overheating. Stop straight away if you have any pain or discomfort or if you develop any unusual symptoms. Avoid pushing yourself too hard and bear in mind that you’ll need to ease up as your bump grows.
- RCOG (2006). Exercise in Pregnancy: Statement No. 4, London, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
- Kuhrt K, Harmon M, Hezelgrave N, Seed P, Shennan A (2018). Is recreational running associated with earlier delivery and lower birth weight in women who continue to run during pregnancy? An international retrospective cohort study of running habits of 1293 female runners during pregnancy BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine 2018;4:e000296. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2017-000296.
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