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Running When Pregnant: Is It safe, Benefits And Tips

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The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends pregnant women to have at least 150 minutes of low-intensity aerobic exercises in a week. Workouts such as walking, running, prenatal pilates, and yoga help reduce the risk of pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes, back pain, and preeclampsia (1).

Suppose you were a regular runner before conceiving; you may continue it during pregnancy, provided at a controlled and slow pace without straining the body, and as long as you feel comfortable (2). Also, consult your health care provider to know about the preventive measures to take while running.

This post will help you know about the safety and precautionary tips for running while pregnant.

Is Running Safe During Pregnancy?

Any form of exercise during pregnancy should first be discussed with the OB/GYN. Women who have been regular runners before pregnancy can safely continue during pregnancy after confirming with the doctor. However, if it is a first-time running experience, it is advisable not to begin during pregnancy. Running will require a good amount of energy and brings about changes that might not be healthy during pregnancy if you are not a regular runner. In such situations, you may start with low-intensity jogging or brisk walking (2) (3).

What Are The Benefits Of Running During Pregnancy?

Besides the common pregnancy benefits, such as reduced occurrences of miscarriage, preeclampsia (high blood pressure), gestational diabetes, premature delivery, and unhealthy weight gain, running also brings about other benefits such as (3) (4):

  • Reduced anxiety: During pregnancy, stress and anxiety are common, influenced by the constant worry for the baby, its health, and the overwhelming responsibilities associated with pregnancy. Running can help you relax your nerves and stay calm throughout and after pregnancy.
  • Improved fetal health: Running has also been associated with fetal health and well-being. It can help prevent the risk of having your baby with high or low birth weight.
  • Reduced postpartum depression: Studies have shown reduced occurrences of postpartum depression in women who incorporated running during pregnancy.

What Are The Safety Measures To Take While Running?

The following running safety measures will help maintain the mother’s and baby’s health (3):

  • Hydration and skin protection: Staying hydrated is important during pregnancy. Frequent urination may tempt you to drink less water, but less intake of fluids along with exercise can make you dizzy and fatigued. Therefore, drink plenty of fluids during the day, especially while running.

The skin is sensitive during pregnancy; hence, ensure to use sunscreen, mostly SPF 30 or more, to protect your skin from sunburn or irritation. You can run during the early morning or towards dawn when the temperature is cooler.

  • Comfortable clothing: Loose and comfortable clothing are important to consider while running during pregnancy. This will give you enough space to breathe comfortably while staying cool. You can support your ankles and feet with running shoes since the hormone relaxin can make you susceptible to easy injuries with the loosened ligaments.

Wear an adjustable sports bra to support your chest since the regular bras may not be comfortable and cause you pain and discomfort.

  • Steady heart rate: Maintaining a normal heart rate while running is important. You can concentrate on your breathing to check or use the smartwatches equipped with a heart rate monitor.
  • Controlled speed: Change your speed of running with progressing pregnancy. Towards the later stages of pregnancy, especially the third trimester, your belly would have almost grown to its full size and may cause you to lose balance. Therefore, slow down and adjust your running speed according to the trimester.
  • Protective gears: You can use pregnancy belts to support your belly. This will help you run without the uncomfortable bouncing of your growing belly.

Are There Any Complications Of Running During Pregnancy?

The negative pregnancy outcomes depend on running intensity and trimester (2) (5).

  • With the progressing pregnancy, your belly starts to grow, shifting your center of gravity and causing you to lose balance while running. Therefore, running on plain and smooth surfaces at a controlled pace is advisable.
  • The pregnancy hormone relaxin causes the muscle and the joints to loosen up as part of the preparation for delivery. It can therefore increase the possibility of injury during high-intensity running.

A retrospective cohort study showed that women who continued running while pregnant had an increased risk of an assisted vaginal delivery. It is believed that running may cause the pelvic floor muscles to pose a hindrance during the baby crowning (5). However, this requires additional research and hence, lacks infallible evidence.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When to stop running during pregnancy?

You need to stop running and immediately contact your OB/GYN if you experience any of the following (3):

2. Would the baby jiggle up and down while running?

No. On the contrary, the movement relaxes the baby while being completely secured and protected inside the womb (2).

Your healthy habits are directly reflected in your baby’s health during pregnancy. So it is when exercising becomes important for you and your growing fetus. You can safely practice running, but it is important not to strain yourself and slow down towards the later months of pregnancy. Utilize the safety tips and consult with your health care professional about pregnancy-safe measures for running.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Exercise during pregnancy.
    https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/exercise-during-pregnancy
  2. Running in pregnancy.
    https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/exercise-in-pregnancy/running-pregnancy
  3. Tips for running while pregnant.
    https://www.nyrr.org/run/photos-and-stories/2019/hss-ask-the-experts-tips-for-running-while-pregnant
  4. Adam S. Tenforde et al. (2015). Running Habits of Competitive Runners During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4332642/
  5. Katy Kuhrt et al. (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.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5891750/
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Aneesha Amonz

Aneesha holds a Bachelor's degree in Biotechnology from USTM, Meghalaya and Master’s degree in Applied Microbiology from VIT, Vellore. She has worked on different research projects in the field of Food Sciences. In addition, she has an internship experience in Oil India Limited as an R&D project trainee. As a writer at MomJunction, Aneesha ensures her content is engaging and... more