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Pregnancy Exercise: What exercise can you do when pregnancy running is no longer an option?

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

June 28th - my due date - although I don’t think baby Walker got the memo! I’ve been meaning to share my pregnancy fitness journey for a while to hopefully help other pregnant women stay active during pregnancy to support physical and mental wellbeing.


This is just what worked for me and is in no way meant to be advice or guidance on what to do when pregnant, only you can decide what's right for you and your body. I view labour and birth as an endurance event and you wouldn’t do zero training for that! It’s so important to keep moving even if it's just 30 minutes a day.


I also wouldn’t want anyone to read this and falsely think I’ve been super active throughout my pregnancy because there have definitely been days where I’ve not left the house, spent most of the day napping and eating pot noodles and sausage rolls! But at 40 weeks pregnant I’m feeling super grateful that my body has allowed me to grow a baby and stay fairly active.


walktheworldMCR Bumps and Babies group

It’s just over a year since I completed the Staffordshire 70.3 Ironman triathlon with Lydia. 6 weeks prior we had completed the Manchester Marathon and straight after I completed a 6 week gym training plan to get ready for my wedding in August. I was at the peak of my fitness, cramming in a run, workout, swim, cycle at least once if not twice a day and I loved it. Exercise is my happy place for my mind and body - it makes me feel great, allows me to get outside, connect with friends and gets my endorphins flowing. I’m a high energy person and sitting down for me is not relaxing…..but exercise is.


So when I found out I was pregnant just after the runtheworldMCR first birthday party in October, as well as being over the moon, I was determined to keep my fitness going. Making sure I was listening to my body and adapting what I was doing to keep my baby safe.


Running

Initially, I naively thought I’d be running throughout my pregnancy as I think most of my friends and runtheworldMCR girls did! People kept telling me “you’ll be running until the day you go into labour”. I would have loved for that to be true but unfortunately around 4 months into pregnancy I started to experience pelvic pain - something I’d never even heard of before getting pregnant! I tried to continue, reducing my distance to 5k and going at a much slower pace, but the pain still continued to the point where I struggled to walk the day after. This caused me to eventually accept defeat around 5 months, something I was really gutted about. I decided that I should listen to what my body was telling me and take the opportunity to take a rest from running and focus on other gentler forms of exercise.


Walking / walktheworldMCR / Park walk

Walking is such an important but sometimes underrated form of exercise. Working from home I often feel the need to get outside whenever I can. So I have tried my best to get 10k steps in a day. walktheworldMCR has also been brilliant and has turned into a bit of a baby bump crew. It’s been amazing to walk and chat to other expectant mums about how we’re feeling and helping to answer each other's questions. I’ve also enjoyed heading down to Saturday Parkrun for a morning walk, seeing some of our runtheworldMCR girls and living my running life through my husband. It makes me feel I’m still part of the social side of running even If I’m just walking. Even if you feel super tired and feel like exercise just isn’t possible while pregnant I’d really encourage you to try at least a 30 minute walk a day.


Cycling - Turbo trainer

Indoor cycling on the turbo trainer has been great! There was no impact on my bump and I could go faster than I had been running, getting my heart rate a bit higher but still making sure I could talk and wasn’t restricting oxygen to my body. I did need to adjust my handlebars so I wasn’t leaning over my bump too much but this was a real win! There are lots of different indoor cycling options which I’d definitely encourage you to try as it’s great cardio and you feel your bump is safe and supported.


Swimming

This is another great option as your bump is supported by the water and you feel much lighter. I was quite conscious of people knocking into me so it’s worth going at quieter times so you don’t worry about any unwanted knocks.



Reformer Pilates

This has to be my favourite discovery while pregnant. I’d always wanted to try reformer but had never managed to squeeze it in with all the other training I’d been doing. lululemon kindly paid for me and Lydia to have a private class at Core 30 in Worsley and I was hooked! It really felt like I’d had a proper workout plus it seemed to get rid of my aches and pains of pregnancy. They’ve now started doing a specific pregnancy class which is brilliant and I’d really recommend giving it a try. If you don’t fancy Reformer, any kind of pilates class is great for keeping your strength up during pregnancy. There are lots of online classes or you could visit our friends at Transcend studios in Eccles.


Yoga

I went to a pregnancy specific class and also a normal class which could be adapted. I really enjoyed pregnancy yoga from a social point of view and it was great to have an hour where I was forced to relax. It was super light but definitely felt the benefit for relaxing and practising breathing techniques. From a fitness point of view normal yoga was a bit more strenuous but still very gentle. I also went to aerial yoga but wasn’t allowed to go upside down which is the best bit!


Gym workouts

I’ve always been a fan of the Sweat app as there are so many workout options, most of their programmes only require you to do 3 x 30 minute workouts a week and they really work! They have a pregnancy programme which I started doing, I didn’t manage to always do 3 workouts a week but I just took the pressure off and did what I could manage. I also bought the Bumps and Burpees book which has been great too and they also offer an online programme for pregnancy and postnatal which I’m keen to try.


I’m really looking forward to starting my postpartum fitness journey. It's been inspiring to see some of our runtheworldMCR girls start running again after having their babies. I’m not putting myself under any pressure and want to make sure I do it slowly to allow my body to fully recover from birth and avoid any injuries. These are just a few things I’ve got planned hopefully from the end of August. Couch 2 5K and walktheworldMCR/ runtheworldMCR, Mum WOD (cross fit where you can take your babies), Pilates, post pregnancy gym workouts either via the Sweat app or Bumps and Burpees. Swimming for me and with the baby. I’m on the lookout for other post pregnancy fitness classes so please do share any you have enjoyed.


Becky


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