When should I stop running in pregnancy?
Make sure you warm up beforehand, cool down afterwards and drink plenty of water. You should aim to stay as fit as you were rather than pushing yourself harder or trying to achieve peak fitness.
Use the ‘talk test’ to make sure you’re not overdoing it. You shouldn’t be so out of breath that you can’t hold a conversation. And pay attention to your heart rate. Here’s what to aim for:
Heart rate (beats/minute)
|Less than 20 years||140-155|
|Over 40 years||125-140|
Once your bump starts to show, running may become uncomfortable. This is partly due to the hormone relaxin, which loosens your ligaments and means that there’s less support for your knees, ankles and back.
You might also feel uncomfortable because of pressure on your pelvic floor, so it’s important to exercise your pelvic floor muscles regularly. After the pregnancy you may also like to return to running and a strong pelvic floor will be helpful in allowing you to get back to running comfortably after the birth.
As your pregnancy develops, your breasts could become tender and heavy, so wear a good, supportive sports bra.
As your bump gets bigger, you might find it’s more comfortable to change to low-impact exercise, such as walking or swimming. Some women find that they are happy running right up until their due date. Everyone is different, so listen to your body and be guided by what feels comfortable for you.
If you’re an elite athlete, get specialist advice – the aim of exercise in pregnancy should be to stay fit rather than break records.
- RCOG (2006). Exercise in Pregnancy: Statement No. 4, London, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/statements/statement-no-4.pdf.
- 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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