Running, whether for fitness, training, joy or health, has managed to withstand the test of time. In a day and age when every fad diet and/ or exercise is “the next get fit quick scheme,” this method of exercise has maintained its status as a tried and true way to stay in shape. Running proves beneficial not only for avid runners, fitness professionals and endurance athletes, but for anyone looking to keep fi,t including pregnant women. There are many things a pregnant woman is warned against, but stopping running should not be one of them.
Upon first glance, seeing a pregnant woman jogging is perhaps a little shocking. It is also more than likely observed with a lot of confused snickers and uninformed judgments. What most perplexed passersby are probably wondering is simply whether or not it the activity is safe for mom or baby, usually assuming it is not. Actually, it is. While most doctors would not recommend a pregnant woman who is not conditioned to run to take up the sport now that they are expecting, it is in fact perfectly healthy and safe for women who have already been running as part of their fitness regimen to continue to do so.
A study published in Maternal and Child Health Journal has suggested that women who maintain their regular fitness routines while pregnant, including running, while adjusting intensity accordingly, are less likely to experience common pregnancy complications like backaches, swelling, fatigue and mood swings. Another added benefit is that women who stay active while pregnant are more likely to recover more quickly and be back to their previous exercise routine sooner than the more sedentary pregnant woman. In addition to the benefits the pregnant runner experiences their baby benefits as well, with some data suggesting that the babies of moms physically during pregnancy are born with stronger cardiovascular systems.
Aside from maintaining a healthy active lifestyle for personal enjoyment, the pregnant runner is encouraged to continue running to avoid excessive weight gain and the negative effects that could have on a woman’s pregnancy. Today the mere suggestion of being overweight has the real potential to affect a woman’s self image, as well as having physical risks. Some of the more typical risks associated with gaining excessive weight during pregnancy include and increased chance of a cesarean delivery and more difficulty maintaining a healthy weight post-pregnancy. For baby, mom’s weight gain may lead to pre-term births as well as a higher chance of obesity later in life. Of course there is more than enough information about adequate weight gain and getting enough rest, but new studies suggest that staying active and gaining weight moderately can result in just as many, if not more, benefits to both mama and baby.
Pregnant women definitely do not need to stop running all together, but it is important that they listen to what their body is saying. It is a great idea to continue regular exercise throughout pregnancy. However, it is probably not the most opportune time to try to beat a previous mile time or set a new half marathon record. There is plenty of time for that after the baby comes and pushing a 45-pound stroller is good training. Athletes are quite intuitive about what their bodies need, and this definitely carries over to the pregnant athlete.
A lot changes when a woman becomes pregnant, and few women notice these changes as much as the athletic ones, and their usual exercise routine is not necessarily out of their control like so many other things amid all the chaos and change of pregnancy. There is no reason the pregnant runner should stop now she is exercising for two, all the more reason for the pregnant mama to keep on running.
By Heather Everett