If It Is Safe, How Long Can You Continue?
Can I go jogging when I am pregnant? I currently run 5 kilometres (about 3 miles) a day. - Kylie, Australia
The expert answers
With your caregiver's approval, you should be able to continue jogging once you're pregnant, at least through the middle of your second trimester (if not all the way through your pregnancy). After that, your growing belly and breasts may make running very uncomfortable, and you may want to switch to power or race walking. You might want to try one of the new supportive maternity exercise garments such as those made by Mothers In Motion (http://www.mothers-in-motion.com) to alleviate some of the pressure on your bladder and lower back.
Let comfort be your guide during each run. If you start to feel dizzy or nauseous, then slow down your pace until you feel better. If you need to shorten your runs on days that you feel tired, then do so without feeling like you're giving up on your exercise program. The main goal is to grow a healthy baby. At the beginning of your pregnancy you may find that you are short of breath very early into your run - that's perfectly normal (and, by the way, was the way I knew I was pregnant with my 3rd baby!). Toward the end of your first trimester, your breathing will become easier, and then toward the end of your 2nd trimester you may find yourself short of breath again as your uterus grows upward and constricts your diaphragm.
When you run, it's very important to warm up properly for at least five minutes with a fast walk or slow jog. You'll also want to gently stretch the muscles of your lower body before and after each run to help prevent injury and muscle soreness. Proper clothing and footwear are also very important. Be sure to wear breathable clothing that isn't too tight and footwear that fits properly and offers enough support. It is very common for a pregnant woman's foot to "grow" a half size over the course of her pregnancy. If your running shoes get too tight, invest in a new, larger, pair. Shopping for shoes at the end of the day when your feet are at their largest (due to swelling) is always a good idea.
Also, be very aware of the conditions of your running course. If you run outside, don't run during the hottest times of the day. As your center of gravity moves upward, be aware of the possibility of loss of balance and avoid running in areas with lots of obstacles (like cracks in the road or uneven pavement or gravel). Make sure to drink LOTS of water before, during, and after each workout to keep your core temperature within a safe range and to keep your baby cool (this is especially important during the first trimester so start practicing good drinking habits now!).
In addition to your runs (which are great aerobic exercise), you should also add some strength training for your upper and lower body as well as abdominals and pelvic floor. Keeping those muscles well-toned throughout your pregnancy will help alleviate some of the discomforts of pregnancy such as lower back pain, urinary incontinence, and leg cramps, and should also help you get through labor more easily and speed recovery after the birth.
Good luck with your running and baby-making!