Running in pregnancy

If you ran or jogged regularly before your pregnancy, you can carry on for as long as you feel comfortable – it’s a great aerobic exercise and can help you to have a fit and healthy pregnancy.

If you were a regular runner before your pregnancy then it’s safe to continue, but if you’ve never run or jogged before, it’s best not to start running in pregnancy.

Your joints won’t be used to the impact of running. There are lots of low-impact exercises you can try instead of running or jogging in pregnancy, such as walking briskly, stationary cycling or swimming.

If you’re used to running or jogging and want to continue in pregnancy, there are lots of benefits. It’s an excellent workout for your heart and lungs.

Running in pregnancy has not been shown to cause miscarriage or premature birth. However, if you have been told you are at a higher risk of having a premature birth, talk to your doctor before starting any exercise in pregnancy.

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 the high intensity of 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 to pregnancy.

As with any aerobic exercise in pregnancy, for safe exercise check you can pass the talk test. If you find 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 securely cocooned within you and may even find the motion comforting.

Running in the third trimester, you’ll probably find that your pace slows down naturally as your bump gets bigger. Listen to your body – 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

If you continue running in pregnancy:

  • 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.

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.

More on exercise in pregnancy

Sources

  1. RCOG Guidelines, Exercise in Pregnancy, Statement 4, London Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 2006
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Last reviewed on February 1st, 2015. Next review date February 1st, 2018.

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