How Running While Pregnant Can Be Beneficial

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One of the number one questions that active women have when they are expecting is whether or not it is safe to keep up an exercise routine.  Not only is it safe, it is encouraged.  Staying active during a pregnancy is a great way to not only get your body up and moving, but can actually be beneficial for you and your child’s health.  Running is a great way to exercise that can be done daily, as long as you get clearance from your doctor.  While it isn’t recommended to take on a high impact routine if you are not active before your pregnancy, avid runners can easily continue to benefit from this high energy activity.

Benefits of Staying Active During Pregnancy

A common symptom of pregnancy is fatigue and a general lack of energy.  Exercise is a natural energy booster because it releases endorphins which will also work to heighten your mood.  Many women turn to high impact activities like running while pregnant to help to counteract the lack of caffeine in their systems. 

Gestational diabetes is a real concern for most pregnant women.  One thing that is recommended to combat this risk is to maintain a healthy lifestyle which includes diet and exercise.  While you may not be able to hit the track the same way you did before, as long as you follow your natural resistance and listen to your body, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to use running as a way to stay fit.

Pregnant women naturally have higher blood pressure which can often times lead to painful issues like swollen gums and ankles.  A great way to help ease this problem is to get your blood flowing fast.  An increased heart rate will help to push your blood through your body faster which can not only help reduce swelling but will also send oxygen to sore muscles which is great for lower back pain.

Tips for Running While Pregnant and How to Stay Safe

First and foremost before hitting the pavement is to make sure that you are staying safe.  It is okay to realize that your body has changed and your limitations may have also.  Here is a breakdown of some ways to stay safe as well as some ways you can expect your body to react:

First Trimester

The first trimester of your pregnancy is the most important.  This is where your little bean is starting to develop into a tiny human.  Their organs are starting to form and their body is beginning to grow.  This also means that you are more than likely hit with a great deal of new challenges.  This included morning sickness, fatigue and overall lethargy.  If you are planning on running while pregnant in your first trimester, make sure that your body is on board too.

You should always make sure that you are comfortable and prepared.  If you are running in the colder months, make sure to layer up.  Pregnant women tend to run on the hot side, this is because of heightened blood pressure, but don’t let this new found warmth fool you.  Keeping yourself bundled up properly can help ward off common ailments like cold and flu viruses.  You’re already dealing with enough without throwing a cold in the mix.  Make sure that you are wearing comfortable shoes as well as compressed socks.  Having shoes that can easily be loosened up is going to make all of the difference in the world because your feet will swell.

Most importantly, when running in your first trimester, stay hydrated.  It is a good rule of thumb to drink double the water as you would when you weren’t pregnant. This is especially true when you add running while pregnant into your daily routine.  Besides drinking enough water before you hit the sidewalk, make sure to bring plenty of water with you.  You should also keep your energy up by fueling beforehand.  Try to avoid power bars that are loaded with sugar and salt because those will only aspirate the swelling in your body.  Instead, reach for some fresh fruits or healthy proteins like cheese and nuts.

Second Trimester

An amazing thing happens when you hit your second trimester.  Your energy is high and your mood matches it.  While this is partly due to you getting used to the sensation of being pregnant as well as you being able to better understand how your body works, there is more to it than that.  Morning sickness tends to dissipate during the second trimester and your body has finally found its natural rhythm.  This is the perfect time to get outside and go for a run because you will be feeling less drained and may even find that your runs will be more protective and longer.

With an ever extending belly you want to make sure that before you go out for a run that you are comfortable.  While wearing loose fitting clothes is an option that some expecting mothers choose to go with, it isn’t always ideal.  This is because loose fitting clothing won’t do much to keep your body warm.  Try to find form fitting maternity active wear that will not only help to support your back, but your belly as well.  This will not only help to keep you warm but will also help with proper blood pressure and flow due to the compression against your skin. 

A growing belly also means that there will be environmental and balancing changes.  Your center of gravity is thrown because you now have a baby bump that will be pulling you forward.  The last thing you would want is to trip and fall forward while picking up speed.  To avoid this, try to stay aware of your surroundings.  Always keep your eyes forward and in the direction you are moving while also trying to keep your hips aligned with the rest of your body.  This may seem a little awkward and may take some getting used to, but in no time it will become second nature.

Third Trimester

The third trimester is the home stretch of your pregnancy.  While your child is almost done developing, they still have some very important growing to do.  This is where their brains and eyes are finishing forming which means you need to be extra careful.  The third trimester is a great time to slow down your run a little.  As with the other trimesters, you need to follow your body’s lead.  If your body is telling you to slow down, opt for taking a brisk walk outside instead of running.  While you may feel like taking a trimester off, consider all of the benefits you can still get out of light exercise.  Running is a great way to loosen up joints as well as relax tight muscles. 

Not only can running while pregnant be a great way to keep your body loose, it will actually help with labor and delivery.  This is especially true in the third trimester.  Your body is already beginning to prepare itself for the tough road ahead and by staying active you are helping it out every step of the way.  Running helps to keep your pelvis loose and will help you to practice focused breathing which is an important part of a successful labor.  By staying active before you go into labor you are actually helping your body to recover faster after your child is born.

The most important thing to remember when running during your third trimester is to stay safe.  While 40-42 weeks is the ideal gestational time for a pregnant woman, it isn’t uncommon for women to go into healthy labor as early as 36 weeks.  A great way to stay safe is to always make sure that you are running with a partner.  This way you always have someone by your side incase early labor rears its head.  Also, always make sure that you have your mobile phone on you with your doctor’s number clearly marked and stored.  If you don’t have anyone who is willing to run those steps alongside of you, take your workout to a public area.  Try taking brisk walks through malls or shopping centers, or only run on flat trails that are often filled with other runners.  In the colder months, opt for an indoor treadmill instead.  While it isn’t as pretty as an outdoor run, it will still get the job done.

Final Pointers

While testing your boundaries is a great way to stay motivated with some great results, being pregnant is a whole different ballgame.  Running while pregnant should be done with a certain amount of caution.  Always listen to your body when it comes to strength and limitations to ensure that you are above all things, staying safe.  It is also important to remember to never start a vigorous exercise routine while pregnant without first consulting with your doctor.  Even if you lived an active lifestyle before your pregnancy, there are a number of other issues that could keep you limited to short walk instead of long run.  As long as you have reasonable expectations and exercise common precautions, you will find that running while pregnant can be a magical thing for you and your child.

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