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Running when pregnant

running when pregnant

Congratulations! You are pregnant. Now what? Should you ditch your running shoes for a box of chocolates and the couch? No way! Experts agree it’s good to exercise while pregnant. But the questions that remain are how much and how often?

The answer: it depends on the person.

I enjoy local races and have dabbled in the marathon. When I became pregnant, I had just come off a season that included the Boston Marathon. I had all intentions of continuing to run during my pregnancy. But, considering it was my first child, I was nervous and anxious that I would hurt my baby. It doesn’t help that there is no definitive answer on running and pregnancy. Here are some guidelines I used but as always talk to your doctor BEFORE starting any exercise program when pregnant. Like I said before, every person is different and what worked for me may not necessarily be right for you.

  1. Stick to routes you know. Pregnancy is not a good time to try a new route. Your body should be familiar with the terrain so that you can avoid any missteps and tripping that may occur later in pregnancy when your balance is off.
  2. Always bring hydration. No matter the distance, a water bottle should be your best running companion. Even just 15 minutes of running requires a pregnant woman to replenish her fluid intake. Stopping during a run to get your heart rate down and sipping some water is a great idea during pregnancy.
  3. Bring a phone on every run. Sometimes, when you are pregnant, you may need to hit the end button sooner than you would like. Having your phone can be a great resource if you need to call a spouse or  taxi to pick you up. Never be afraid to call it quits if something just does not feel right.
  4. Shorter and slower is better. Pregnancy is not the time to set race goals. Pregnancy is a time to enjoy running for how it makes you feel. It can help get rid of morning sickness, fight off fatigue, and revitalize if done right. Slowing down and decreasing miles can help maximize the benefits running when pregnant. If you run too fast or too far, fatigue from pregnancy may set you back for a few days.
  5. When in doubt, treadmill it out. The treadmill can be a great resource during pregnancy — especially in the last trimester. The surface is softer than concrete and the road. It also has a great pace button that can be adjusted as needed during your workout. There are less environment safety concerns while running on treadmill as well.

Running when pregnant is such a great thing for mother and baby. My experience running during pregnancy was excellent, but it’s important to get to know your body and listen to its cues. And have fun!

Article by Danielle Bressoud. Danielle is a licensed physical therapist, practicing for 7 years, and running addict living in Massachusetts with her husband and son.

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