If you’ve enjoyed running as a form of exercise before falling pregnant, is it possible continue running during pregnancy and is it safe for yourself and your unborn baby?
Running during Pregnancy – First Trimester
During pregnancy, running is considered safe during the first trimester. This is a time when your weight isn’t likely to increase dramatically, and your balance is still fairly stable. You may however, face internal challenges instead. 70-85% of women suffer morning sickness in their first trimester, and it’s critical to incorporate enough calories into your diet to accommodate any illness caused through vomiting1 if you plan to continue running during pregnancy. Not only may you be affected by nausea or vomiting, but you may also experience fluctuating food cravings, mood swings, constipation, the need to urinate often and other unpleasant side effects. These can all influence your ability to maintain a pregnancy exercise routine, especially one that consists of such a physical sport as running.
The distance you can safely cover, the speed at which you can run and the intensity at which it is safe to do so, will all vary depending on your state of fitness prior to becoming pregnant2. Running during pregnancy is generally believed to be fairly safe during the first trimester if you were running previously. However, due to the misalignment of bones, increased body weight and potential variance in ability to balance, running during pregnancy is better left to people who were extremely active before pregnancy.
Running 2nd and 3rd Trimester
If you had just taken up running prior to becoming pregnant, it’s safe to continue running during your first trimester but is highly recommended to switch to power walking from the second trimester. Intermediate runners can continue running in their second trimester but should reduce the intensity of and frequency of their running during their second trimester. 3 to 4 days per week is the maximum recommendation, ensuring a day of rest in between. They can continue this routine into the third trimester only if they feel confident and comfortable, but transition to running on flat terrain. Reduce the distance if you experience any pain or struggle and switch to walking if you still wish to keep active during your final trimester.
Very advanced runners can continue to run up to 5 days per week during their second trimester, and can even continue running this amount during the third trimester provided they feel stable and confident and are not experiencing any pain2/sup>. Swimming is another recommended alternative if you’re keen to continue your pregnancy exercise routine but may not be able to continue running.
One of the primary dangers for consideration when running during pregnancy is that as your pregnancy progresses, your centre of balance shifts, making falls more likely. Exercise also causes an increase in your body temperature, which can be detrimental to your baby’s development if you core temperature exceeds 38 degrees celsius4.
All things considered and whilst exercising caution, running during pregnancy is safe to continue but there are some even safer alternatives that you may like to consider whilst you endeavour to maintain a pregnancy exercise routine.