pregnant runner

Running during pregnancy, is it safe?

Running during pregnancy, is it safe?

Can you run while pregnant ? Many women who tend to have moderate or high physical activity before pregnancy wonder if they will be able to continue with their lifestyle while they are expecting a baby and if they will be able to run during pregnancy .

On the other hand, there is also the opposite case, where other less active or even sedentary women wonder if it will be safe to start running or doing sports in this “delicate” period of life.


To begin with, we must be clear that pregnancy is not a disease, and that the recommendations to “rest” and “be more careful” during pregnancy are more than outdated. As Beth Skwarecki (science writer) commented  in PloS , running during pregnancy is safe and even recommended, although up to 64% of doctors give outdated advice on this topic, such as the nonsense of recommending staying below 140 beats per minute.

Here we will go over why running is beneficial during pregnancy , and what real precautions to keep in mind. Although, curiously, some studies have found that the majority of women reduce their pregnant running habits , with only around 30% of them continuing to run in the third trimester of pregnancy.

Running while pregnant is safe

running during pregnancy
the majority of women reduce their pregnant running habits , with only around 30% of them continuing to run in the third trimester of pregnancy.

According to the latest advice from the US Department of Health and Human Services on physical activity , any healthy, not very active woman can begin to get up to 150 minutes of physical activity (2 hours and a half) of moderate intensity a week during pregnancy and the puerperium, or what is the same, between 20 and 30 minutes a day on average.

Can I run during pregnancy?

These intense activities include jogging or  running during pregnancy , although if you are looking for something more moderate you can walk at a brisk pace. If we are talking about pregnant women who already carried out an intense previous activity, they can continue doing it during and after pregnancy , as long as the level of health is maintained and they take a medical follow-up,  this is very important, to correctly adjust the time and intensity of said physical activity.

According to these guidelines, the risks to the future baby are very low , and the risk of having a low birth weight child, having a premature birth or even miscarriage does not increase.

Benefits of running during pregnancy

Although up to 99% of doctors agree that physical exercise during pregnancy is beneficial , as we have already commented at the beginning, approximately 2 out of 3 doctors advise putting some limitations that were recommended in the 90s and that today today they are totally obsolete.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), physical activity during pregnancy has many benefits to consider, such as reducing the risk of complications (pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, complications during delivery or the possibility of suffering premature labor).

Benefits of running during pregnancy

Among these benefits, according to ACOG, we have:

  • Less pregnancy-related discomfort (back pain, bloating, constipation, leg pain, or bloating).
  • Better mood.
  • Increased energy.
  • Improved quality of sleep.
  • Improvements in blood circulation.
  • Increased endurance, muscle tone and strength, preparing the body for labor and delivery.

In addition, to all this we can add the decreased risk of suffering from depression , as a study published in the Journal of Physiotherapy in 2019 concluded .

Exercise and sports while pregnant

In addition to running during pregnancy, there are multiple other exercises and sports recommended to improve health in this nine-month period. Although running or walking are the two most common activities, if we are looking for lower impact exercises, we can also opt for the exercise bike, walking  or yoga (with exceptions in some postures), or even swimming , which improves the pain of back and knees for example.

In addition to improving health during and after pregnancy, practicing any of these activities can reduce unnecessary weight gain during pregnancy and facilitate its subsequent loss.

Although it is advisable not to obsess over weight during pregnancy , its gain should be limited, as excess weight can lead to gestational diabetes and cause problems during pregnancy for both the mother and the future baby.

Activities to avoid during pregnancy

There are some activities that should be avoided during pregnancy because they can cause risks, both for the mother and for the future baby. In summary, these activities are:

  • Exercises that involve lying on the back, such as sit-ups or some yoga poses, after the first trimester. Lying on your back can be dangerous as it can limit blood flow to your baby.
  • Activities that increase the risk of falls, such as horseback riding, cycling, skiing, surfing, snowboarding, skating, or gymnastics.
  • Contact sports in which a woman could get hit in the stomach, such as soccer, basketball, ice hockey, or kickboxing.
  • Diving, which can put an unborn baby at risk for decompression sickness. This disease can create dangerous gas bubbles in the baby’s blood.
  • Exercises at high altitudes (more than 2,000 meters), which can reduce the amount of oxygen the baby receives.
  • Exercising outside on hot, humid days, which can cause a woman’s body to overheat. For the same reason, pregnant women should also steer clear of saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms.

Likewise, according to a recent Spanish study published in the JAMA Network magazine  , it is also obvious that during pregnancy any “strenuous” activity should be avoided (for example, long-distance running, weights, high-intensity sessions, isometric exercises, jumps or exercises. impact).

Of course, whatever training you do, taking care of hydration during exercise is even more important.


Danger signs during exercise in pregnancy

Finally, we must not forget some danger signals that a pregnant woman’s body can send during physical exercise. In fact, some of these signs should also be taken into account whether there is a pregnancy or not, and should always be consulted with a doctor immediately :

  • Chest pain.
  • Calf pain or swelling (which may indicate a blood clot).
  • Decreased fetal movement.
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Loss of fluid from the vagina.
  • Headache that is severe or does not get better.
  • Muscular weakness.
  • Preterm labor (premature contractions at least three weeks before your due date)
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Vaginal bleeding

Pregnancy and running, is it bad?

In conclusion, we can affirm that jogging or  running during pregnancy is a safe and even recommended activity.

If running was already practiced prior to pregnancy, it is possible to maintain a similar intensity during pregnancy, always under medical supervision and taking into account the alarm signals that we have discussed.

Running in the first, second and third trimesters

On the other hand, if you want to start running during pregnancy for the first time, it is advisable to start walking during the first trimester for about 30 minutes a day, 2-3 times a week, increasing the intensity in the second trimester, and having special be careful in the third trimester, being able to continue walking at least 30 minutes a day at a good pace (the body will have adapted over the months and it will be possible to keep up with no problem).

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