Jogging while pregnant: How much is too much?

November 15, 2012 7:37:04 AM PST
Times are changing. While expecting mothers were once told to avoid physical activity during pregnancy, doctors now recommend moms-to-be to continue to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, for as long as possible. That can include weight training, yoga, even jogging. But how much is too much? We went to the experts to find out.

At age 40, Debbie Demeo feels fit as ever.

"I know some people frown upon it, but my doctor was OK with it. I feel good, so it's just an individual very personal decision," Demeo said.

She's 30 weeks pregnant and running three and a half miles a day.

"It's one of those things. It's just part of my routine, so I didn't want to stop my routine just because I was pregnant," Demeo said.

But the bigger she gets, the more stares and questions follow.

"Why would you do that? Are you sure it's safe? Are you still having fun?" Demeo said.

"The exercise part is a question I get every day," Dr. David Zepeda said.

Dr. Zepeda says as long as you're already fit and healthy -- and accustomed to rigorous workouts prior to your pregnancy -- running is perfectly safe. It won't jostle your baby or tear muscles that would hurt the fetus.

"Really can't hurt her baby. The only thing that can really hurt her baby is if she had a fall, or really over-exerts herself for a long period of time," Dr. Zepeda said. "I'm not talking about a little short burst at the end of her run -- that's perfectly alright -- but something very strenuous might be very harmful."

"It sounds a little scary to me. It depends on how pregnant you are. I mean, if you're in the third trimester, I'd think that's getting a little bit close," one woman told us.

Experts do caution pregnant runners in the third trimester to carefully monitor your heart rate, properly hydrate and keep your body temperature low to normal. And if your blood glucose level drops, take a break.

"Sometimes I have to stop and walk just 'cause I get a little winded, but for the most part it's been easy," Demeo said.

Of course, easy for Demeo may not be for everyone.

"I wouldn't particularly want to at that point in time, but I would walk, myself," Judy Dougherty said.

While the thought is jarring for some, other women we spoke with either have jogged or plan to jog throughout their pregnancies.

"I don't think it'd be wise to suddenly start something like that, but if you have a track record of doing it, more power to them for finding the energy," Rachel Blackney said.

"If you were a runner beforehand and very active before getting pregnant, I think you can run all the way up to your due date," Pamela Price said.

With her due date now around the corner, Demeo is still running. But, she says she's cut back.

"I didn't want to push myself too hard. I'm not really training for a race, I just want to stay fit," she said.

She'll taper, she says, after she delivers.


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