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Pregnancy

      Walking and running when pregnant

      The benefits of walking and running during pregnancy

      Running or walking during pregnancy can help you maintain a healthy weight and may even help speed up your post-birth recovery time1. Running Coach Mel believes that running and brisk walking also brings mental benefits, giving you the time and headspace to reconnect with your body and process the physical changes that take place during your pregnancy.

      However, with the social distancing guidelines that are currently in place as a result of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, you may prefer to exercise caution and stick to fitness activities that can be done safely at home, such as pregnancy yoga or strength training exercises.

      Meet your coach

      Mel Bound

      @thismumruns

      Mel is a qualified Running Coach, mum and founder of the running community This Mum Runs. Watch the video to find out why Mel is passionate about helping pregnant women stay connected to their bodies throughout pregnancy and beyond, teaching them how to get Active for 2 through running. 

      Walking and running during pregnancy

      What you'll need

      Running or brisk walking during pregnancy requires very little equipment and can be done anywhere at any time, making it an easy activity to fit into your usual routine. With just a few basics, you’ll be ready to go. Start with:

      • Well-fitting trainers. In pregnancy, if you’re taking part in any load-bearing exercise, cushioned shoes will help prevent injury. Visit a specialist running store and they will recommend the best trainers for you based on how you run.
      • A supportive, non-wired sports bra.
      • Loose, comfortable layers that can be taken off once you’ve warmed up.

      You should also consider buying a hydration pack or an expandable running belt which will carry your water bottle for a hands-free way to stay hydrated.

      Warm up and cool down

      During pregnancy your body produces the hormone relaxin, which can make you more flexible and prone to injury, so it’s essential to prepare your body for any activity.

      Before you begin to exercise, start with a short walk followed by a range of dynamic stretches to gently loosen-up your legs, hips, back, chest and arms.

      When you’ve finished, cool down by reducing your pace to a slow walk, until your breathing goes back to normal. This will help your muscles to return to their pre-exercise state.

      Finish with static stretches of the calves, thighs, chest, back, shoulders and arms, using a wall or tree for support.

      Watch Mel demonstrate

      Pregnancy running programmes by trimester

      Choose your trimester and running level:

      1

      If you’re new to running, or only ran a little before pregnancy (once or twice a week, up to 30 minutes at a time) stick to walking but vary the intensity depending on how you feel.

      Begin gradually with walks of 10–15 minutes two or three times per week, then increase gradually to 30-minute sessions up to four times a week. Aim to increase the intensity to a brisk walk, but stick to a pace that allows you to maintain a conversation.

      If you were running regularly (at least twice a week, for between 30 minutes and an hour) for at least three months before pregnancy, it’s safe to continue with your usual routine – unless your midwife or doctor advises you otherwise.

      If you ran regularly for around 30 minutes before pregnancy, try running for 15 minutes twice a week to start with.

      If you can run for longer or more frequently without feeling breathless or uncomfortable, gradually increase your run to 30 minutes, or mix running with brisk walking, depending on how you feel.

      Incorporate a rest day between each running session, and if your previous route included hills or sprints, these should now be avoided. Instead, stick to flat terrain and maintain an even pace.

      If you were running regularly (at least twice a week, with sessions ranging in duration from 30 to 90 minutes) for at least six months before pregnancy, it’s safe to continue with your usual routine, provided you’ve informed your midwife or doctor.

      Pregnancy can make you feel short of breath, so listen to your body and be prepared to scale down your usual pace and time and avoid high-intensity running.

      If your previous route included hills or sprints, these should now be avoided. Instead, stick to flat terrain and maintain an even pace.

      Avoid racing or high-intensity sessions unless you are working with a professional Running Coach and are under medical guidance.

      2

      If you’re new to running, or only ran a little before pregnancy (once or twice a week, up to 30 minutes at a time) stick to walking but vary the intensity depending on how you feel.

      Begin gradually with walks of 10–15 minutes two or three times per week, then increase gradually to 30-minute sessions up to four times a week. Aim to increase the intensity to a brisk walk, but stick to a pace that allows you to maintain a conversation.

      If you’ve been running regularly (at least twice a week, with sessions ranging in duration from 30 to 90 minutes) for at least six months before pregnancy, it’s safe to keep going, but you may have to modify your intensity, duration and frequency, depending on how you feel.

      Aim to run for up to 45 minutes, up to three times a week, but walk whenever you feel the need.

      Listen to your body and pay attention to your breathing. You should still be able to hold a conversation. Try not to monitor the distance covered; you’ll probably find your pace will start to slow down. Focus on maintaining a steady pace and run for as long as you feel comfortable.

      As with before pregnancy, aim to run two to three times a week, but if you only manage one run, you’re still doing brilliantly. If on some days you feel like walking instead, you’ll still feel the benefits.

      As your bump gets bigger, your centre of gravity starts to shift. Stick to a route that covers flat, even terrain. If you’re running at night or in the early morning, run with a friend and in well-lit areas that will allow you to spot any potholes, bumps or obstacles in your path.

      If you’ve been running regularly (at least twice a week, with sessions ranging in duration from 30 to 90 minutes) for at least six months before pregnancy, continue to run as often as feels comfortable, but with a rest day every couple of days.

      As an experienced runner, you may find you sometimes struggle with the idea of running at a slower pace for shorter distances and less time, but consider your pregnancy more of a time to maintain running fitness rather than improve it.

      Pay close attention to your breathing and comfort levels, and also your energy levels after a run. If you’re feeling overly tired, consider swimming or yoga instead.

      3

      If you’re new to running, or only ran a little before pregnancy (once or twice a week, up to 30 minutes at a time) stick to walking but vary the intensity depending on how you feel.

      Begin gradually with walks of 10–15 minutes two or three times per week, then increase gradually to 30-minute sessions up to four times a week. Aim to increase the intensity to a brisk walk, but stick to a pace that allows you to maintain a conversation.

      If you  ran regularly (at least twice a week, for between 30 minutes and an hour) for at least three months before pregnancy, while it’s safe to continue with your usual routine, in your last trimester, you may start to find things more challenging.

      Pay close attention to your body and your breathing. Slow your pace right down if necessary, decrease the time you run for or use run-walk intervals instead. Ensure you incorporate rest days between running days.

      Running for a minimum of 15 minutes one to two times a week is manageable for some at this stage. But if you simply feel too tired or unstable, rest, walk or try swimming or yoga instead.

      If you ran regularly (at least twice a week, with sessions ranging in duration from 30 to 90 minutes) for at least six months before pregnancy, in your last trimester, running as frequently or for as long as you did before may start to feel too tiring or uncomfortable.

      Pay close attention to your body and your breathing. Slow your pace if necessary or try run-walk intervals. If you feel too tired or unstable, rest, walk or try swimming or yoga instead.

      Try not to feel disheartened if you’re no longer able to run at the pace or for the duration you used to, or if you lack motivation on some days. Give yourself permission to take it easy. All of your efforts now, no matter how small, will pay off when it comes to getting back into a running routine after the birth.

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      Your baby's future health begins here

      Your baby's future health begins here

      At Aptaclub, we believe that experience helps to build resilience; that each new encounter, whether in pregnancy or after birth, can shape your baby’s future development. With our scientific expertise and one-to-one round the clock support, we can help you and your baby embrace tomorrow.

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      Our midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.