Pregnant women benefit from exercising for at least 150 minutes a week. It is safe to exercise during pregnancy if you maintain moderate intensity and are healthy.
If you are an avid runner before pregnancy, doctors see no objection to continuing to run while pregnant.
- Moderate intensity is the key phrase here. If you have any complications, it is important to consult your doctor.
- Exercise is deemed unsafe if your pregnancy is associated with certain high-risk conditions.
Severe anemia, heart diseases, lung problems, placental issues, preeclampsia, or bleeding are some of the major risk conditions. Also, doctors don’t recommend exercise if you carry multiple or have a chance of preterm labor.
Always consult a physician who is well equipped with complete knowledge of your pregnancy complications before you begin exercising during this phase of life. They can equip you better with a suitable healthcare plan that is safe for you and your baby.
Benefits Of Running During Pregnancy
A 20 to 30-minute daily running when pregnant has several benefits, provided you are clear to run by your doctor.
- Reduced risk of preterm birth
- Prevents gestational diabetes
- Keeps blood pressure in control leading to reduced risk of preeclampsia
- Maintains the weight of the baby, facilitating normal birth
- Reduced need for C-section as your pelvic muscles become flexible
- Develops a strong core that aids in preventing lower back pain
- Improved development of babies’ brains compared with babies born to sedentary mothers.
- Relieves anxiety and improves the mood
- Easier labor and faster postpartum recovery
- Decreases the chances of developing pregnancy complications
- Reduces the likelihood of developing depression by 67%
Risks Associated With Running While Pregnant
You can continue running if you were already doing so before you were pregnant.
But don’t start your running habit during pregnancy! If you’re new to exercising, start by walking slowly.
Risks associated with running while pregnant:
- Your body balance changes as the belly grow to accommodate the baby.
- All the extra weight you bear in the front shifts your center of gravity.
- Maintaining balance in different terrains makes it challenging as your body tries to get used to the new balancing parameters.
Also, the pregnancy hormone relaxin loosens the ligaments throughout the body as it prepares for childbirth. It aids in relaxing the pelvis to facilitate delivering the baby. The sacroiliac joint, pelvis region, and lower back become extra sore due to the action of this hormone.
Since the ligaments are loose, their stability is limited, leading to more chances of injury.
So, rough terrains and loose joints are not a good combination for running during pregnancy as they lead to a greater chance of injury.
Round ligaments support the uterus to bear the increased weight. Vigorous exercise can cause tire these ligaments present in the pelvis region. It can lead to severe pain around the abdomen and pelvic area.
Tips For Safe Running During Pregnancy
Once you check with your doctor and receive a green signal for running, here are a few useful tips to follow to make this experience more comfortable.
#1 Proper Shoes
Pregnancy brings in many changes, including changes in the size of your feet.
Investing in properly sized shoes with ample support can reduce your risk of injury. It enhances your stepping comfort and helps you balance yourself well on different terrains.
#2 Extra Support
All the weight concentrated in the front puts lots of pressure on your lower back. A supportive maternity belt can help reduce pain in your lower back.
Similarly, a well-fitting sports bra makes a drastic difference as the right size gives you enough breathing space and support.
#3 Enough Hydration
During pregnancy, you need a higher water intake as it helps maintain amniotic fluid levels and aids indigestion.
It also helps sustain a higher volume of blood and helps remove waste from the body.
But most pregnant women hate the increased number of trips to the bathroom and inadvertently end up drinking less water.
Also, the pressure on their bladder contributes to this. However, it is important to fulfill your fluid requirements and keep yourself well hydrated when running.
#4. Go Easy On Yourself
Keep in mind that your fitness levels cannot remain the same as before you were pregnant.
Do not exhaust your body too much as it is already working hard. Take things slowly, and don’t push your body beyond your comfort level.
Pregnancy hormones cause fatigue in the early days, and you will feel exhausted easily.
Take breaks, walk in between, add in extra recovery days, and respond appropriately to your body signals.
#5 Food Intake
You need the energy to run, so feed yourself with carbohydrates with easy digestion.
The digestion process may be slower during this period so allow little extra time for the process.
Then start running. Replenish yourself with electrolytes and protein when you return.
Trimester Wise Running Experiences
Here is a brief note on what pregnant women experience during each trimester and how it affects their exercise.
Fatigue and nausea are the major complaints of many pregnant women during this period.
Though not all of them experience nausea, those who do should not run as they need to preserve their energy.
Women feel better and find their energy returning after nausea subsides.
You can increase your mileage a bit more than in the first trimester if you feel comfortable.
It is more about being tired and bearing that extra weight, which gets uncomfortable. Most people take a break at this stage, especially when approaching their due date.
Few others who work out confine themselves to walking or cut their activity to half.
Stop exercising immediately when you experience the following symptoms when exercising:
- Clear fluid leaking from the vagina
- Spotting or bleeding vaginally
- When having chest pain
- Experiencing headache
- Painful regular uterus contractions
- Swelling or pain in the calf
- Dizziness or fainting feeling
- Excess fatigue
- Weakness in muscles affecting your balance
- Shortness of breath
The Bottom Line
Your commitment to fitness goals should support your health and not deteriorate it. Make proper adjustments to your fitness regime under expert guidance.
Even professional runners reduce their activity during pregnancy as they understand their body needs do not support the vigorous exercise.
Listen to your body and limit your activity enough to keep you fit and comfortable.