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Training & advice

Five tips for running safely throughout your pregnancy

Most people have an understanding that exercise is healthy during pregnancy, but there’s a common misconception that all vigorous exercise must be stopped. For avid runners, this can be very discouraging.

Thankfully, it’s also false. 

Working out while pregnant has incredible benefits for you and your baby both during and after pregnancy, as demonstrated by this article from Mom Loves Best.

As long as you take certain steps to make sure you’re taking proper care of your body, it’s perfectly safe to continue running. Here’s how.

Don’t increase your distance. If you were running before you were pregnant, it’s perfectly fine to continue after you discover that you’re expecting. However, you do need to keep in mind that your body is going through significant changes and that your highest priority is to deliver a healthy baby at the end of nine months. For this reason, do not significantly increase your intensity, your distance, or try to compete with your pre-pregnancy running times. Enjoy your workouts, but don’t push it harder than you’re accustomed to.

Listen to your body. We know you are well-accustomed to pushing through pain as a runner. But during pregnancy, this needs to change. You need to pay attention to those aches and pains and if they indicate that your body needs something adjusted, do it. This might mean skipping a run or settling for a stroll if you just don’t feel up to it, choosing shoes with better arch support if you’re starting to experience aches and pains, or jumping on the treadmill if it’s too hot outside to run safely. And always carry water with you to keep hydrated. Even though it might mean that your run is punctuated by frequent bathroom breaks, the alternative can be dangerous. As a pregnant woman, your body is more susceptible to dehydration, which can even launch you into premature labour.

Choose safe terrain. As you grow throughout your pregnancy, your balance will change. So will your stride. This can increase your risk of falling, which is even more dangerous when you’re pregnant than when you’re not. To reduce this risk, choose safe terrain. If you’re a trail runner, find a route that doesn’t have tree roots or other tripping hazards. If you run around the city, avoid streets with uneven sidewalks. And though it might seem boring, if all else fails you can find a track to run on. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Communicate with your doctor. Don’t hide the fact that you plan to continue running from your doctor out of fear that they’re going to advise you to stop. They won’t - especially if you explain that you want their guidance on how to do it safely. Ask them for symptoms you should look out for when running, what your maximum heart rate should be, and follow their guidance on how many calories you should consume. Exercise during pregnancy is to maintain health, not lose weight, and your doctor can help you make sure you’re fueling your body to give both you and your baby the energy you need to keep at it throughout your pregnancy.

Keep the benefits in mind. Whether you run all the way through your third trimester or have to scale back your workouts somewhere in the middle of your pregnancy, don’t get discouraged and remember - SOMETHING is better than NOTHING. The benefits of exercising during pregnancy are many, and even light-to-moderate exercise is beneficial. Let these facts motivate you when you get frustrated, discouraged, or want to throw in the towel altogether.

Benefits for you:

  • It helps with your energy levels. 
  • It helps reduce constipation. 
  • It boosts your immune system. 
  • It helps ward off gestational diabetes. 
  • It can result in a shorter labor and reduces your C-section risk. 

Benefits for your baby:

  • It boosts their immune system.
  • They’re more likely to be born with a healthier birth weight.
  • It helps with lung maturation.
  • In increases brain activity.
  • In improves oxygen flow.

You don’t have to stop running when you’re pregnant, because as long as you do so safely, it has the potential to offer tons of health benefits to both you and your baby. So lace up those trainers and hit the trail - because a healthy start and a happy mum are the two best gifts you can give your baby.

About the Author

Jenny Silverstone is a fitness enthusiast, runner and a blogger for where she writes about her journey through parenting.