By Alice || Edited by Go Ask Alice Editorial Team || Last edited Jun 03, 2024
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Alice! Health Promotion. "Is running okay when you’re pregnant?." Go Ask Alice!, Columbia University, 03 Jun. 2024, https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/running-okay-when-youre-pregnant. Accessed 23, Jun. 2024.

Alice! Health Promotion. (2024, June 03). Is running okay when you’re pregnant?. Go Ask Alice!, https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/running-okay-when-youre-pregnant.

Dear Alice,

Can I run when I am pregnant?

Dear Reader, 

Putting a new spin on ‘labor’-intensive training? Exercising while pregnant offers many benefits, such as increased mental well-being, lowered risk of complications, and possibly even a smoother labor experience. For these reasons, medical professionals typically advise those without risk factors to engage in at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week, if possible. That said, the intensity and type of physical activity you wish to perform may depend on factors like your level of pre-pregnancy activity, changing activity to accommodate existing routines, or pre-existing health conditions. 

If you were a runner before becoming pregnant, maintaining your level of activity with some modifications can be a great way to continue exercising. These modifications can include: 

  • Avoiding overly hot temperatures. Exercising in extreme heat might lead to overheating. Overheating may cause harm to both you and the fetus, especially during the first trimester. 
  • Hydrating properly. Drinking plenty of water while exercising can help you stay cool and hydrated, helping regulate body temperature.  
  • Monitoring your breathing with the ‘talk test.’ If you find it difficult to maintain a conversation during or after exercise due to breathlessness, you may be pushing yourself too hard. Testing this method can be a good indicator of when to reduce the intensity of your workout. 
  • Listening to your body. If you experience vaginal bleeding, uterine contractions, chest or pelvic pain, dizziness, fluid leaking from the vagina, calf pain or swelling, shortness of breath, or headache during or after your workout stop any activity at once and seek medical attention.  
  • Dressing for the occasion. Wearing shoes with proper ankle support and a supportive bra, if applicable, can prevent further pain or discomfort. 

If you weren’t accustomed to running pre-pregnancy, moderate physical activity can still be beneficial during pregnancy. Other activities, besides running, that are suitable during pregnancy can include yoga, cycling on a stationary bike, swimming, dancing, walking, and pelvic floor exercises.  

Regardless of your level of activity pre-pregnancy, it can be helpful to speak with a health care provider before beginning any exercises while pregnant to ensure your safety. Certain health conditions such as preeclampsia, bleeding issues, anemia, heart or lung disease, and placental problems may make it unsafe to exercise during pregnancy. That said, it’s recommended that those who are pregnant avoid some activities entirely; these activities include: 

  • Contact sports. Engaging in contact sports like hockey, football, or boxing can increase the risk of abdominal trauma, which can lead to future complications such as premature labor or placental abruption.  
  • Scuba diving. Fetuses can’t protect themselves from decompression sickness or gas embolisms due to the changes in oxygen levels and pressure during scuba diving. 
  • Exercising at high altitudes. Reduced oxygen levels at high altitudes can reduce oxygen supply to the fetus. Additionally, there’s an increased risk of dehydration and overheating at high altitudes.  
  • Lying on your back for long periods. Prolonged periods of lying on your back may reduce blood flow to the fetus if a major blood vessel becomes compressed.  
  • Exercises that have a high risk of falling. During pregnancy, the body undergoes changes that may affect balance and coordination, which can make individuals more susceptible to falling. Therefore, it may be helpful to avoid activities like horseback riding, skiing, or gymnastics while pregnant to minimize the risk of any falls or injuries.  

All this to say, running can be a great way to stay active and boost physical and mental well-being during pregnancy. Before starting any new exercises or continuing an old workout routine while pregnant, it may be helpful to speak with a health care provider. They can assess your health for potential risk factors and provide you with alternative exercises if needed. 

Happy running! 

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