Safe for runners to continue during pregnancy

The biggest ever survey of its kind has shown that running while pregnant for those used to exercise does no harm

There’s good news for keen runners, as a comprehensive study reported in the British Medical Journal has found that it is safe to continue during pregnancy.

Professor Andy Shennan, of Kings College London, led a study of 1,293 female park runners who are also mums. The women involved in the study regularly took part in parkruns – free 5k events which take place in parks and open spaces every Saturday across the country – and responded via the parkrun newsletter.

They were asked details of their pregnancies, such as when they gave birth and how much the baby weighed.

No significant effects

Taking into account each woman’s weight, height, ethnicity and their baby’s gender, the researchers built up a picture of the health of the newborn.

They concluded that continuing to run during pregnancy did not significantly affect the birth weight of their baby or increase the possibility of a preterm delivery.

Professor Shennan said: ‘With more than 2.8 million parkrunners across the globe, many will be of reproductive age.

‘With parkrun’s assistance, in the biggest ever study of running in pregnancy, we have determined that this is safe.

‘Women can continue accustomed exercise during pregnancy and we would encourage this to ensure a healthy outcome for both her and her baby.’

Marathon running

As further proof, he added: ‘One woman ran a marathon the day before she delivered at term, while others ran regular half marathons throughout pregnancy. Even women with triplets enjoy parkrun regularly.

‘Of course, some women had problems, but these were no more likely to occur in women who continued running compared to those who didn’t. Exercise is recommended in pregnancy, which provides excellent preparation for birth and accustomed exercise can continue throughout pregnancy.’

Find out more about exercise during pregnancy

If you’re not sure how much exercise you should be doing as an expectant mum, or which sports are especially good for you, check out our guide to exercise during pregnancy.