Asked whether it is safe for a woman to run for exercise while pregnant, a Charles Sturt University (CSU) social science researcher gives a qualified ‘yes’, if …
Professor Rylee Dionigi, lecturer in the CSU School of Exercise Science, Sport and Health in Port Macquarie, and researcher in the CSU Institute for Land, Water and Society, cautioned that a number of criteria need to be considered and met before undertaking any strenuous exercise while pregnant.
“After seeking medical/health care advice and clearance to run while pregnant, and if the pregnant woman enjoys running, wants to run and feels they can run, then yes,” Professor Dionigi said.
“Pregnant women can run according to their own fitness levels and previous physical activity, sport or exercise experiences, and the stage of their pregnancy.
“But the woman’s medical/health care advice needs to be reviewed as a pregnancy progresses.”
Professor Dionigi said that while the latest guidelines on exercise during pregnancy from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2015) and Sports Medicine Australia (2016) are useful when deciding whether it is safe to run, both documents also recommend that further research in this area is necessary.
“More importantly, such guidelines and related health policies must be situated within the wider cultural, historical, environmental and political context,” Professor Dionigi said.
“Ideas about exercise during pregnancy continually change over time.
“Scientific knowledge is shaped by cultural concerns and context, and many factors related to pregnancy are out of women’s control.
“Furthermore, not all women have the means, ability or desire to exercise during pregnancy (see Chapter 11 by Shannon Jette in Sport and Physical Activity Across the Lifespan, 2018).
“Therefore, if exercise during pregnancy is encouraged, women should not feel obligated to ‘run’, and policies should focus on creating the socio-cultural conditions, such as adequate housing, nutrition and prenatal care, which enable women to make choices about physical activity that address their health needs.”