Can You Run When Pregnant?

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You know that you are going to be running around after your kids when they are born, so can you run when pregnant?

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Pregnancy can be an amazing and confusing time. You wonder at your tummy as it starts to stretch and grow and question why you now have an urge for ice cream at 2am. Your body is starting to change and you know that you have to make some other changes too. You know wine nights with your friends need to be postponed, and your penchant for unpasteurised cheese is on hold, but what else needs to change? Can you still roll out your yoga mat at the local gym, use weights or sign up for the fun run? You know that going for a personal best might not be a good idea when you are expecting a baby, but can you run when pregnant? Should you still claim the best treadmill in the gym or should you skip it and head for the showers?

Can you run while pregnant?
While you’re not going to be hitting any PRs, you can still pull on your trainers. Prenatal personal trainer Tami Smith of Fit Healthy Momma said: “Unless your doctor recommends you avoid running, there is nothing wrong with keeping up with your runs during the pregnancy, but you might have to modify quite a bit, especially near the end.” Although she adds: “If you weren’t a runner before pregnancy, chances are you should wait until after you’ve given birth to begin.”
OB-GYN and fitness professional Carla DiGirolamo of Boston IVF said that what you can do is linked to your baseline level of fitness. “My recommendations for an accomplished triathlete will be different from a sedentary individual. But my general recommendation – assuming an uncomplicated pregnancy – is to stick with her current fitness level at her discretion with an awareness of any pregnancy symptoms she is having,” said DiGirolamo. Caution comes in during the second trimester when the center of gravity changes and falling is a potential risk. “Another risk is pain in the pelvis as the bones begin to separate and the cartilage between the pelvic bones is more stressed,” said DiGirolamo.
Finding the right gear to support your changing body is key said run coach and pre- and postnatal fitness specialist Christine Nichols. “I recommend that my pregnant runners get fitted for shoes mid-pregnancy as your feet can grow and your gait can change and therefore you may feel more comfortable in a different shoe or shoe size,” said Nichols. “Investing in a belly band can also be very helpful with round ligament pain, back pain and for more added support during exercise.”

What are the benefits of running through pregnancy?
A runner’s high may be rare, but it’s clear that exercise gives pregnant mums a mental boost. Researchers from the University of Alberta found that mothers-to-be who were physically active in the early days of the pandemic had a 30 percent less chance of suffering from depression.
While a workout will help with cardio vascular health and weight management, as it does with anyone else, it also comes with the added perk controls the blood sugar levels of mums-to-be. “Insulin resistance worsens in pregnancy due to the production of human placental lactogen,” said DiGirolamo. “Movement increases the uptake of blood glucose by the muscles, thereby helping to maintain healthy blood glucose levels.”

Which exercises should you avoid while pregnant?
Safe and effective exercises for the first trimester include walking, jogging, cycling, resistance training (squats, lunges, bicep curls), yoga and Pilates. Morning sickness may curb some plans, so the key is to listen to your body. “I highly recommend lots of walking and at least three days per week of strength training as you’re going to need a strong, capable lower body to deliver your baby and support your pregnancy weight,” said Smith. “Avoid intense jarring movements or engaging in activities that put you at risk for falling or getting injured.”
The second trimester should be similar in terms of exercise, but with the main precaution being that it’s recommended that you not lie flat on your back after about 20 weeks of pregnancy. “During this trimester, your belly will likely start to “pop” so it’s important to be aware of things like where you’re resting weights (avoid the pelvic area and belly for things like hip thrusts),” said Smith. “Many pregnant women, especially as they near the end of their second trimester, find that they need to scale their exercise back a bit. This can look like lowering weight selection or scaling back the intensity of running.”
For the third trimester, if you’re experiencing a normal, healthy pregnancy, you can stick with your regular workouts with modifications. “You should never “push through” any kind of pain or discomfort,” said Smith. “If you wake up feeling sore and overly tired, it might not be the best day to hit the gym for a lifting session. Instead, a long, leisurely walk can be just what your body needs. Your physical fitness before and during pregnancy will determine how much you can do in your third trimester.”
Prenatal fitness specialist Christine Nichols confirms that there is no hard and fast rule, what you can do depends on the individual throughout the pregnancy. “Some women will be able to continue running, others will not, some women will be able to continue squatting, others may struggle with it,” said Nichols. “A good rule of thumb to follow is do what feels comfortable. If side squats hurt, then don’t do them, stick to regular squats and other movements that feel okay and don’t cause any pain.”
Consult with your doctor or OB-GYN about which exercises are suitable for you.

This story was written for Live Science by Sweat Shop


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