Can I Run During Pregnancy?

Pregnant runner
Photo by Dana Hoff

"I just found out that I'm pregnant. I currently run about 25-30 miles per week. Can I continue running during my pregnancy?"

Hundreds of studies show physical activity to be not only safe, but beneficial, for expectant mothers. Exercise can help keep pregnancy weight gain in check, prevent gestational diabetes and pregnancy-induced hypertension, possibly reduce length of labor, and speed up post-pregnancy recovery time.

Since you were already running before you got pregnant, it's safe to continue running through your pregnancy. For those women who never ran before, it's best to wait until after your pregnancy to start running.

If you're expecting and you ran before you got pregnant, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Consult your healthcare provider to make sure your running plan is safe and specific for your needs. Every woman and every pregnancy is different.
  • Aim to simply maintain your fitness level with moderate, frequent exercise. You shouldn't try to overexert yourself to reach a peak fitness level or train for a race. You may want to switch to a run/walk strategy. This is not the time to be trying to beat your personal record or run your longest distance ever.
  • Don't ignore warning signs if they occur while running, such as vaginal bleeding, cramping, excessive nausea, lightheadedness, or extreme headaches. Consult your doctor immediately if any of those problems arise.
  • Pay attention to your thirst and make sure you're well-hydrated. Run or walk with a water bottle, so you have fluids when you need them.
  • If you want to participate in a race, it's important that you don't have any specific time goals or plan to push yourself hard during the race. Do it purely as a fun run.
  • After your baby is born, you can continue running. Just check with your doctor about how and when you should adjust your running postpartum.
  • If you're going to do strength-training and cross-training activities, avoid doing exercises that involve lying on your back after your first trimester. And refrain from doing activities that increase the risk of falling or abdominal trauma, such as horseback riding, downhill skiing, soccer, and basketball.

Also see:   Running After Pregnancy Tips

Sources: "Exercise During Pregnancy: Safe and Beneficial" American College of Sports Medicine, March 28, 2008

"Physical Activity for Women During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period" U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Continue Reading