Running is a quick and efficient way to keep your heart and body healthy. It gives you a mental and physical boost when you feel tired. Plus, you can do it almost anywhere, so it is easier to fit into your schedule. But can you continue running during pregnancy?
Is running during pregnancy a safe exercise?
If you are in good health and your pregnancy is uncomplicated, the answer typically is yes. Some women, however, have pregnancy complications or medical conditions due to which it will not be advisable for them to run. Check with your doctor before starting to run – or starting any other type of work out regime during pregnancy.
If your doctor gives you the green signal, the key is to listen to your body – do not over-stress yourself. Plan your routine as per your limits. Women used to run regularly before getting pregnant can continue running at their normal pace for as long as they feel comfortable.
But if you are new to running, start slowly: Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes by walking and stretching, then jog at a slow and easy pace for about five minutes. Cool down by walking for another five to 10 minutes.
If your joints do not hurt and if you feel ready for more, you can slowly pick up the pace or increase your distance week on week. It is advised that pregnant women should at least do 20 to 30 minutes of exercise at reasonable intensity every day or most days of the week.
Tips for Running in your first trimester
- Stay cool- Wear loose-fitting clothes made of light, breathable material to stay cool.
- Stay hydrated- Drink a lot of water before, during, and after run. One way to check whether you are hydrated or not is to weigh yourself before and after a run. And if there is any weight loss, it will be due to low levels of fluid in your body. Drink enough water to bring your weight back up to the original number.
Another way to check your hydration is to check the colour of your urine. Urine should be pale yellow to nearly clear. If it is dark yellow, you need to drink more water.
Tip: Plain water is the best, but if you are using a sports drink, dilute it to reduce the sugar content – 2 parts water to 1 part sports drink.
- Skin protection- Wear a hat with a brim to prevent or reduce melasma (pregnancy related skin darkening). Use a sunblock with SPF 30 or higher on skin exposed to sun.
- Wear proper shoes- Your shoes should give your feet sufficient support, especially around the ankles and arches. Go for running shoes that are cushioned for shock absorption and are flexible at the ball of the foot. As pregnancy can increase you shoe size, make sure you get shoes that fit well.
- Wear a sports bra- Invest in an adjustable, sports bra that can support your breasts and expand with your growing breasts.
Tips for running in your second trimester
- Plan your running path- Some pregnant women prefer to walk straight because running straight without having to make any turns are light on the joints. Irrespective of the type of track you choose, make sure you are in a safe area, not a distant spot where you could get stuck in an emergency. Carrying your phone is a must.
- Be careful about changes in balance- Your centre of gravity shifts as your belly grows, leaving you more susceptible to slips and falls. Avoid running on tracks with rocks, debris, tree roots, and other natural hurdles that could cause a fall. Run on a pavement to play it safe.
- Support your growing belly- If the bouncing motion due to running is becoming uncomfortable, try wearing a belly support band.
Tips for running in the third trimester
Stay as careful as you were during the first two trimesters. And if you feel too tired to go for a run, listen to your body and take a break. Pushing yourself can be harmful.
Generally, the pace of the runners slows down significantly during the third trimester – a fast walk may be a better choice as your due date approaches.
Signs that you are pushing too hard
Do not run to the point of breathlessness or exhaustion. Pushing yourself beyond your limit forces your body to divert oxygen that should be going to your baby. Calm down if you notice any of the following signs:
- If you feel exhausted instead of energized after a workout.
- Feeling pain in your joints and ligaments during or after a workout.
- If your muscles feel extremely weak, sore or shaky for a long time after exercising.
- If your resting heart rate in the morning is more than 10 beats higher than normal
All the above mentioned signs tell that your body is overworked and needs more rest.
Warning signs when exercising
Stop running immediately and call your doctor if:
- You have chest pain, contractions, or vaginal bleeding.
- You feel dizzy or faint.