The question: I run half-marathons and do yoga, and I just found out I’m pregnant. Can I continue my exercise routine?
The answer: As long as you have your doctor’s okay, and you stop if something doesn’t feel right (bleeding, dizziness etc), an active pregnancy is recommended!
I wouldn’t suggest taking up running if you haven’t done it before, but since one’s exercise history indicates what is appropriate during pregnancy, continuing is usually fine.
That said, everyone’s tolerance is different. Listen to your body and adopt a flexible mindset (this can be hard for runners since we tend to be goal-oriented). Modify your routine as needed: Start a walk/run program, water run, reduce your speed or redefine your expectations.
This is not the time to train for a personal-best half-marathon time. Ensure you can always carry on a light conversation.
Other things to keep in mind:
- Ditch long or intense runs. Aim for consistent, moderate activity.
- Invest in proper shoes and sports bras.
- Warm-up properly, stay hydrated, avoid extreme temperatures and prioritize recovery between workouts.
- Breathing may become harder as your uterus puts pressure on your diaphragm and lungs. Stand up straight to relieve the pressure, and don’t push yourself to discomfort.
- As your centre of gravity shifts, be careful on uneven surfaces. Consider treadmill running – the bathroom is close, the surface is even, the temperature is controlled and water is never far away.
- When running outside, consider doing multiple small loops so you are always close to home.
- Be very careful in yoga. Pregnancy will cause your hips to loosen. Don’t over stretch. Avoid hot yoga classes. The heat will loosen you further, making it easier to overstretch.
- Prioritize strengthening your pelvis and back. As you become heavier, you have to strength train to proportionally increase your muscular capacity so your body can support the added weight while you run and generally go about your daily life.
- After your second trimester, avoid overhead exercises, don’t lie on your back and expect to sweat more.
- The tight calves that cramp easily, which runners often experience, may worsen during pregnancy. Stretch your calves daily, invest in compression socks, don’t sit for excessive periods and, when possible, elevate your legs.
Trainer’s tip: Your activity level makes it imperative that you eat enough. Consider tracking your diet to ensure you are getting enough nutrients.
Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.
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