To say that being pregnant changes your life would be an understatement. It drastically impacts everything from your diet to your gym routine. Today, we’re discussing the latter in detail.
Are you used to going out for a morning jog every day before work and wondering if you can maintain the same routine now that you’re pregnant? Or are you a paranoid partner with a pregnant significant other who loves running and is simply unwilling to give it up for nine months?
Either way, we’re here to tell you that, in most cases, running is perfectly okay for pregnant people. As long as the pregnancy is healthy and there aren’t any health-related complications, doctors recommend that pregnant women engage in at least 2 hours of moderate-intensity exercise – running.
Is It Safe to Run During Pregnancy?
Yes, it is safe to run during pregnancy in most situations. For a majority of cases, running has several benefits and does nothing except helping the mother.
This is especially true for women who regularly ran before getting pregnant. If it’s a part of your routine, your body will have become accustomed to the exercise, and suddenly stopping won’t be good for you.
Moreover, by regularly running, you’ve developed leg muscles, endurance, and stamina. You already have all the tools needed to go on runs. Hence, it doesn’t make sense to undo all of that growth by stopping running for nine months.
What Conditions Make It Unsafe to Run
However, there are a few extenuating circumstances under which running isn’t recommended by health professionals.
These include placenta problems, some types of lung and heart diseases, severe anemia, preeclampsia, and bleeding.
If you suffer from any of these illnesses, then we’d recommend avoiding running to be safe. However, if you’re dedicated to your fitness routine and don’t want to give up running, then you should consult a doctor.
It is very likely that you could harm your pregnancy by continuing to run in these circumstances.
You should also avoid running if you’re having multiples and are at risk of preterm labor. If you don’t know whether or not this applies to you, consult a doctor. They’ll be able to tell you after a few scans and tests. Then you can make an informed decision about your and your baby’s health.
Benefits of Running While Pregnant
There are several benefits of running while pregnant. Everyone knows that exercise is good for you under normal circumstances, i.e., when you aren’t carrying a child. Well, did you know that all the same benefits apply to pregnant women too?
Running is an excellent exercise that engages everything from your legs to your core muscles. It also increases your stamina and, if done regularly, increases how much time you can be active before needing a break.
Also, running releases happy hormones, which release stress and improve mood.
In addition to these general benefits of running while pregnant, a couple of other impacts apply specifically to pregnant women.
Lessens Weight Gain
Weight gain is one of the biggest downsides to being pregnant, and running reduces weight significantly.
Pregnancy is a happy and rewarding experience for most women. This holds true despite the vomiting, morning sickness, and fatigue because these side effects are temporary, but the joy of having a child lasts a lifetime.
Unfortunately, weight gain during pregnancy is fairly long-lasting. It takes serious dedication to reduce fat once it’s found its way onto your body. Running while you’re pregnant can stop it from getting there in the first place.
A study with 39 women showed that continuing exercise during pregnancy leads to less weight gain and a lesser risk of cardiovascular disease. So by continuing running, you can protect yourself from the dreaded fat gain.
Running also makes it more likely for women to have less complicated and quicker labor. They also tend to have faster recoveries.
Lowers Risk of Complications
Exercise like running reduces the risk of pregnancy complications. This includes stuff like preeclampsia and needing a cesarean section. Gestational diabetes is also less common in women who run regularly.
Complications with the mother’s health during pregnancy are always stressful. But more than that, it can have a negative impact on the child. This can be direct or indirect. Direct impact means that the bad health of the mother causes bad health in the child.
The other type shows itself through things like diverting attention. So if the mother is in a bad state, it is likely that she will be receiving medical attention and moral support, which is undoubtedly super important. However, this does mean that the fetus is getting less attention. This can make it more likely for people to overlook its health concerns, which is risky given its vulnerability.
Improves Mental Health
Another excellent benefit of running during pregnancy is its impact on mental health. Studies have shown that exercise can decrease the likelihood of depression by 67%, which is huge.
By increasing your energy levels, running improves your mood and keeps your mental health in a good place.
This is crucial during pregnancy because taking care of a newborn baby takes a lot of effort. You need to have a strong mind to be able to get through it all. This is only possible if your mental health is good.
If you’re depressed or stressed, you simply won’t be able to take care of your child’s needs. Your baby will only be healthy if its primary caregiver is healthy.
Even if the mother isn’t the primary caregiver and works while someone else takes care of the child, she still needs optimum mental health in order to manage her affairs like keeping her job and financially supporting her family. Nobody wants an unproductive drained person working for them.
So in this situation as well, proper mental health is important. Running during pregnancy can help you reach that end goal.
Boosts The Baby’s Brain’s Development
Researchers have also found that running during pregnancy can boost the baby’s brain’s development. This means that their brain develops quicker than normal.
Risks of Running While Pregnant
Alongside the wonderful benefits highlighted above, you should know that there are certain risks of running while you’re pregnant. These become especially problematic when women who didn’t run before getting pregnant start running so suddenly.
Therefore, doctors don’t recommend running to people who weren’t running before their pregnancy. Starting slowly with exercise programs that primarily involve running, on the other hand, are acceptable and pose little to no risk to the mother and child.
If you were already running, you should continue. However, you should also know about these two risks that are fairly prominent among pregnant women.
Your center of gravity changes when you become pregnant. This is because of the extra weight in front of your body. So all exercises involving balancing have to be adapted according to this change.
Therefore, the risk of falling, tripping, or losing balance is super important to know about. Take extra precautions when running on steep or uneven surfaces and make sure to wear shoes that grip the ground underneath you and allow you to maintain balance.
Also, your joints become looser and more prone to injury when you’re pregnant. So it’s important to be aware of these weaknesses and be super careful.
Aches and Pains
Some pregnant women feel pain around their abdomen and pelvis. These pains are known as round ligament pains and are quite common. They occur because of the round ligaments that support the uterus.
Increasing weight in the uterus increases pressure on the muscles and hence increases the likelihood of pain. It worsens during vigorous exercise like running.
Tips for Running While Pregnant
Buy Proper Running Shoes
We’ve told you that your body’s muscles, joints, and ligaments become loose or elastic during pregnancy. Here’s how you mitigate the harm from these changes.
Buy proper running shoes. You need well-fitting supportive footwear if you want to run during pregnancy safely. Your ankles and joints need protection from strains and sprains.
The hormone causing the looseness is called relaxin. It does wonders for women when they’re in labor by drastically decreasing pain. However, it makes them vulnerable to injuries at all other times.
Also, the extra weight of pregnancy puts excess pressure on your knees and leads to joint pain. A stable pair of shoes can make you safer by supporting your ankles and arches.
Purchase A Quality Sports Bra
In addition to a bigger belly, pregnant women also have larger breasts. And these can be uncomfortably heavy when working out. Investing in a good sports bra can go a long way in relieving some of the pain that comes because of the larger breasts while running.
Know Where The Restrooms Are
There is added pressure on your bladder when you become pregnant. The baby pushes down on it, so you have to urinate more regularly than you’re used to. As the pregnancy progresses, this will only worsen.
So whenever you go out to run, make sure you know exactly where the nearest bathrooms are. If your regular route doesn’t have enough stops, change it and run somewhere else.
Being able to take bathroom breaks when you’re pregnant is super important.
Buy A Belly Support Band
In addition to needing to urinate more, you also gain more and more weight as your pregnancy progresses. This leads to running becoming uncomfortable since your tummy will become heavier.
The weight of your belly bouncing up and down with every step can be incredibly tiring and frustrating. Luckily, capitalism has you covered. There is a product for just about everything.
In this situation, the product you’re looking for is called a belly support band. It alleviates pelvic pressure while ensuring you maintain a neutral posture. It also keeps pressure off of your abdominal connective tissue.
Using one of these bands will make you way more comfortable while running and help you run longer distances.
While not having to urinate excessively can seem super tempting, you need to recognize that it is a healthy part of being pregnant. You have to drink a lot of water because you’re providing for yourself and your baby.
Running leads to sweating which is essentially water loss. So when you’re running, you need to increase your water intake. If you don’t have enough water in you and become dehydrated, you’ll be at risk of premature contractions.
Moreover, water does all the hard work of transporting vitamins and nutrients to your baby. If you’re losing more water than you’re consuming, you’re depriving your child of essential nutrients.
Keep an eye on the color of your urine. It should be the color of light lemonade. If it is any darker, it means you aren’t drinking enough water and are on your way to dehydration.
Running is recommended for women who were already running before becoming pregnant.
It isn’t advisable for women whose bodies aren’t used to the exercise. There are several benefits of running during pregnancy which include less weight gain, easier labor, lower risk of complications, mental wellbeing, and quicker brain development for the baby.
However, there are also some risks. Relaxin makes your joints loose and puts you at risk of injury. Even so, these risks can be mitigated by taking certain precautions. For instance, purchasing quality running shoes provides your ankles with the necessary support to stay balanced and grounded.
Also, drinking a lot of water and making sure you know where the nearest bathrooms are at all times are important parts of running during pregnancy. Sports bras and belly support bands help you deal with the physical changes associated with being pregnant, like gaining weight in your belly and having growing breasts.
While both can make running uncomfortable, you can take measures to reduce their impact on your exercise routine. Make sure you follow all our tips, and you’ll have a great experience running.