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If you ran regularly prior to becoming pregnant, yes, you can continue your running regimen in some form. If you were sedentary before pregnancy, start with low-intensity exercises such as walking and gradually increase intensity, frequency and duration.2,4,5 Physical activity should be enjoyable, not to the point of exhaustion or overheating.

Learn how to run safely while pregnant, when to stop and what other forms of exercise you can do to stay healthy during your next nine months.

Experienced Runners – How to Run Safely When Pregnant

First, you must have been a runner prior to getting pregnant, if you are not a routine runner, skip to the next section of the article for recommended exercise.2

Every athlete’s pregnancy journey looks different. In the early stages, some women keep their pre-pregnancy running routine, others take it easy. The key is listening to your body. A good rule of thumb is your ability to talk. You should be able to talk while running, if not – it’s too strenuous.1

Either maintain your regimen or reduce it as needed. Do not feel the need to push the limits, and be sure to maintain your hydration and avoid overheating.1 To maintain hydration, drink fluids before, during and after exercise, and avoid exercising during warmest times of day to prevent overheating.2

As your body changes, you may feel off balance, so adjust your routine to reduce your risk of falling. Towards the end of your pregnancy, consider switching to brisk walking, running on a treadmill or sticking to paths close to home where you can get help if needed.2

Babies commonly get more active in the womb when their mothers get active too. So don’t be surprised if your little one gets a little kicky during or after your run.2

Things to Watch Out For

Pressure on the Pelvic Floor. High-impact sports like running put extra pressure on your pelvic floor, often leading to urinary incontinence during and after your pregnancy. You don’t want that. Pelvic floor exercises can reduce the chances of this happening, but they are hard to learn on your own. Seek guidance from an experienced physiotherapist to learn these exercises properly.3

Iron Deficiency. Even when not pregnant, female runners must watch out for iron deficiency. Your baby needs iron to grow healthy and strong, so manage your iron levels extra vigilantly during your pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about what foods or supplements you may need to protect both you and your infant.2

Caffeine in Energy Chews. If you take energy chews or gels for longer runs, check the ingredient list for caffeine. Too much caffeine can have a negative impact on your baby’s growth.2

When to Seek Medical Attention

As mentioned above, listen to your body. If you experience any of the following symptoms, reach out to a health professional:

  • Excessive fatigue

  • Vaginal bleeding

  • Pain

  • Cramping in the back or pelvic area.

  • Dizziness

  • Heart palpitations

  • Unusual chest sensations

  • Persistent contractions1

When Not to Exercise During Pregnancy

There are some medical conditions during pregnancy when it is not recommended to exercise such as:

  • - Premature labour
  • - Ruptured membranes
  • - Unexplained persistent vaginal bleeding
  • - Placenta problems, such as placenta previa
  • - Preeclampsia
  • - Incompetent cervix
  • - Uncontrolled high blood pressure5

Prior to starting exercise, check in with your care provider to make sure it’s safe for you to continue running.

Inexperienced Runners – How to Stay Active During Your Pregnancy

Less than half of pregnant women meet the recommended requirements for activity during their pregnancy, yet studies show time and time again that activity during pregnancy positively impacts both baby and mother.3 Benefits of exercise during pregnancy include fewer newborn complications, a reduced number of Caesarean sections and fewer incidents of urinary incontinence, excessive weight gain and depression.5

If you were not an experienced runner before getting pregnant, start with low-intensity exercises such as walking and gradually increase intensity, frequency and duration. Running is a high-impact sport and can lead to a variety of health complications if your body is not used to it.2 Low-impact sports like brisk walking, swimming and stationary cycling provide are a great way to start incorporating cardio into your daily life. If you want something with a little less-cardio, try yoga or gentle stretching. A quick word of caution: contact sports and abdominal workouts like sit-ups are not recommended.3

If you are not used to much physical activity, don’t jump into the recommended 150 minutes per week right away.4 Instead, ease up to that amount with just 10 minutes per day and gradually increase that amount week after week as your body allows.

1. https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/pregnancy-parenting/pregnancy/your-health-during-pregnancy/exercise-during-pregnancy

2. https://runningmagazine.ca/health-nutrition/a-guide-to-running-while-pregnant/

3. https://www.ualberta.ca/folio/2018/10/exercising-during-pregnancy-cuts-odds-of-complications-by-a-quarter.html

4. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/52/21/1339

5. https://www.jogc.com/article/S1701-2163(18)30567-X/pdf

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§ IQVIA report, 2023 data.

# NIELSEN, 2023 data.

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