What to Know about Running During PregnancyDec 14, 2020
Despite what well-meaning family members or friends may have told you, running while pregnant is generally considered safe. And staying active while you’re pregnant can help you feel better, both physically and mentally.
If you were a runner prior to pregnancy, you don’t have to stop logging miles. You may just have to cut back on the intensity of your running — either pace, distance, or both. Let’s face it: Your body is already working harder than usual to grow a tiny human.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), pregnant women should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Moderate intensity means you’re moving enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat, but not so much that you can’t hold a conversation.
Exercising during pregnancy has plenty of benefits, including a reduced risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and preterm birth. It can help with back pain, constipation issues, and fatigue. Not to mention it increases the body’s production of endorphins, which, when released, help relieve pain, reduce stress, and, generally, make you feel good.
Exercise also lowers the chance you’ll need a cesarean section and helps shorten your postpartum recovery time. In addition, research has found that exercising during pregnancy reduces the risk of developing depression, or lessening its severity if it does occur.
And the benefits of exercise during pregnancy don’t stop with you. They extend to your baby, as well. Research has found that working out during pregnancy results in a reduced risk of diabetes, better brain health, a lower BMI, and a fitter heart for your new, pint-sized running buddy.
Things to consider
If you’ve experienced any complications during pregnancy, including anything that puts you at an increased risk for premature labor, it may be too risky for you to run. Talk with your doctor first to find out for sure. Also, if you experience bleeding or any of the following while running, it might be best to back off your running routine:
- Abdominal pain
- Amniotic fluid leakage
Also, you should keep the following in mind:
- Your center of gravity changes during pregnancy, so be careful on uneven surfaces.
- You may be more prone to injury because your ligaments are looser and not as stabilizing.
- Don’t forget to strength train. Because you’re carrying more weight than usual, strengthening your muscles — think squats and pelvic lifts — can help protect your joints.
- Fuel properly. It’s recommended that most pregnant women start taking in 300 extra calories a day during the second trimester. Add in running, and you probably need to be taking in even more. It’s also important not to skimp on calories during pregnancy. If you lose weight, it can harm the baby’s development.
Similarly, severe dehydration can cause decreased blood flow to the uterus and premature contractions, so make sure you stay hydrated.
- Your running will change. It’s not the time to push yourself. Now, more than ever, you should listen to your body and take it easy. You’ll probably slow down some, and you may get tired easier and have to shorten the length of some workouts. That’s OK. Keep your eye on the prize — ensuring that bun in the oven gets to the finish line safely — and be gentle on yourself.
After giving birth, you can start running again as soon as your doctor gives you the green light, usually around six to eight week postpartum. Again, though, listen to your body and ease back into running gradually. You’ll be back where you were soon enough.
Now get out there and run your life.