Yes, for many women running is safe throughout pregnancy, provided you speak to your doctor before starting any kind of exercise routine. Some pregnancy complications may make running more dangerous, and you should always listen to your body and your limits.
Exercise has been proven to be good for you during pregnancy, leading to many positive health outcomes for both mama and baby. Read on for all the information you need to decide whether to keep running during your own pregnancy.
Is Running OK in the First Trimester?
For most women with normal pregnancies, running is healthy and safe during the first trimester. Many women find that their bodies don’t change very much in feel or appearance during the first trimester, and their running paces don’t vary too much.
Some women experience nausea, vomiting, or fatigue in the first trimester, and if this makes running difficult for you, don’t push it.
If you feel good when running, you can keep doing so with the consent of your doctor.
The most important thing to remember is to listen to your body, and give it what it wants. If high-intensity activity doesn’t feel right on a given day, trust your instincts. Each body is different, and so is each pregnancy.
Can You Run in the First 12 Weeks of Pregnancy?
It used to be the case that women were told not to do intense exercise during pregnancy due to fears of miscarriage or premature labor, though nowadays doctors have recognized that exercise during pregnancy has a wide range of positive benefits.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of “moderate intensity” activity per week. If you are a regular runner, you can substitute this high-intensity activity with the permission of your doctor. See below for exercises that are safe “moderate intensity” activities.
What are the Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy?
There are a number of benefits to both mother and baby that result from increased activity and fitness throughout a pregnancy.
- Increased sense of wellbeing
- Easier and shorter labor
- Lower risk of complications
- Less weight gain during pregnancy
- Improved fetal brain development
- Better sleep
What Exercises Should You Avoid in the First Trimester?
Your body is working hard during the first trimester, even if you may look and feel no different than before. Make sure you try to avoid any injury so you don’t have to put more pressure on your body–and to keep yourself healthy so you can keep up your fitness routine throughout your pregnancy, should you so desire.
Try to avoid:
- Starting any high-intensity workout routine, like running. Wait until after delivery and recovery if you aren’t already a runner.
- Exercises with high pelvic impact, like horseback riding.
- Contact sports should be avoided in the first trimester, to protect your body from injury.
- Any sports that may include the risk of falling are dangerous, such as gymnastics.
- Any exercise that takes your heart rate over 90% of your max rate is dangerous for pregnant women (if you cannot speak while exercising, you are working too hard).
- Anything that makes you overly dehydrated or overheated. Make sure you work out during cooler times of day and get enough water and good nutrition.
What Exercise is OK for the First Trimester of Pregnancy?
Many exercises you are already doing are probably safe to continue, provided they aren’t in the list above and you feel good doing them. If you choose to do a moderate or low-intensity workout regimen in the first trimester, there are a lot of good options.
In addition, if you are used to doing high-intensity workouts, or contact sports, you may actually value your pregnancy as time to try out some new workouts and build some new skills.
Keep in mind that as your pregnancy progresses, some activities will need to be altered to compensate for your belly and the other physical changes of pregnancy. It’s a good idea to get a prenatal plan, or focus on prenatal versions of these exercises.
Here are some exercises that are recommended for the first trimester:
- Yoga (avoid excess strain on the belly if uncomfortable)
- Pilates (same as above)
- Low-impact aerobics
- Spinning at low intensity
- Stair climbing
- Water aerobics
- Gentle weight training (look for a prenatal training guide)
Tips to Run Safely in the First Trimester of Pregnancy
- Keep yourself hydrated! Your pee should be light yellow or clear. (This is a good policy all the time, pregnant or not!)
- Don’t exercise during the heat of day, and make sure to wear breathable clothing.
- Eat a healthy diet; don’t worry about weight loss during pregnancy.
- Keep your heart rate below 90% of max at all times.
- Wear a supportive bra (you may need some new ones).
- Wear good shoes. Your feet may actually change size during pregnancy, but make sure you have comfortable, supportive shoes.
- Wear sunscreen. Some women experience greater skin darkening during pregnancy (Melasma).
- Don’t push through pain. This is not the time to push yourself. Know your limits.
Keep in mind that if you are going to keep running throughout your pregnancy, even into the third trimester, you may want to get started doing pelvic floor exercises and other prenatal conditioning exercises in the first trimester.
This will get you into the habit, and strengthen your muscles so when your body begins to change in the second trimester, you will have a solid base of fitness.
Warning Signs When Running in First Trimester of Pregnancy
Your body changes rapidly during pregnancy, so what might have been fine one week may cause discomfort the next. Make sure to stop what you are doing and alter your workout plan if you experience any of the following. Also make sure to let your doctor know and discuss what is safe.
- Vaginal bleeding or unusual discharge
- Faintness or dizziness
- Loss of balance
- Chest pains
- Rapid changes in pulse rate
- Swelling in the legs
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea
- Severe headaches
Exercising while pregnant can be a vital part of maintaining a healthy pregnancy. But if you’re in your first trimester, should you still run? There are benefits and risks to running during the early stages of pregnancy and it’s important to consider both before making the decision.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises that pregnant women should try to exercise at least 30 minutes per day, as long as they have been regularly exercising prior to becoming pregnant. However, during the first trimester, it is important for women who wish to continue running to proceed with extra caution. While running is generally safe in the later stages of pregnancy when properly monitored by a healthcare professional, it can be more difficult on your body during those initial weeks when hormone levels are changing rapidly.