What studies say about running pregnant and what to watch out for

By Ea Francisco

Pregnancy is a very sensitive state. A lot can happen without you realizing it. Some people consider pregnant women too fragile to perform any physical task, but recent years have said otherwise. Now, you can see more and more pregnant women engage in physical activities and exercise. Some people have even been known to compete in the Olympics while pregnant, or in the case of Serena Williams win Grand Slams. If you’re curious about whether you should run during your pregnancy, here are some things for you to consider.

Should you run while pregnant?

If you don’t have any serious complications or health issues, the answer is usually yes. It’s better to consult with your doctor to be sure on this one. When you’re good to go, you can run around the same pace and mileage as you did before. Around the first trimester, you’ll hardly feel any changes that can affect your run. Women’s Running suggests going at a conversational pace with around 70 percent maximum effort. If it’s your first time, start with a small and light workout.

There are a lot of benefits to pregnant running. It has been said to make the rest of your pregnancy more bearable. According to a study in Switzerland, physical activity during pregnancy gives improved cardiovascular function, limited weight gain, and reduced musculoskeletal discomfort. The improved cardiovascular function makes for a faster and smoother labor since you already have practiced breathing from running. It’s also said to reduce muscle cramps, lessen morning sickness, and improve your overall mood.

Safety Warnings

Despite the positive benefits, you should still be alert about the changes in your body. Pregnant women tend to overheat more, so make sure you hydrate and stay cool as much as possible. The American Pregnancy Association says there’s a higher risk of birth defects if you overheat in the first trimester. Body temperature that’s too high at any point can also have the risk of miscarriage.

Around the second trimester, you should also be more cautious of the trail you’re running. As your belly grows, your center of balance is shifting, so you’re more at risk of tripping and falling because your balance would be off. Also, your body would produce more of the hormone relaxin, which makes your joints and ligaments loose.

For the third trimester, some people run a lot slower and others stop altogether. Running can become too uncomfortable at this point, but you can switch to lighter exercises such as swimming or walking to maintain fitness. While it differs for every person, if you experience intense pain and exhaustion, it’s better if you take a break.

Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t do what you usually do. There’s no problem with running or exercising during pregnancy, but you should also realize the limitations it faces. Don’t ignore the signs your body is telling you because there are some real risks for you and your baby.