Recreational running does not affect birth weight or risk for preterm labor

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Takeaway

  • Recreational running is not a risk factor for preterm delivery or small for gestational age.

Why this matters

  • Running is popular among reproductive-age women, but little is known about its effects on pregnancy; this study provides some reassuring data to use in counseling.
  • Moderate exercise on most days during pregnancy improves gestational weight gain and reduces risks for gestational diabetes and hypertension.
  • Recreational running may strengthen pelvic floor muscles, increasing the duration of the second stage of labor.

Key results

  • No significant differences were found in gestational age at delivery or birth weight between groups.
  • The rate of assisted vaginal delivery was higher in women who ran in pregnancy (OR, 1.32; P=.03) compared with those who stopped.

Study design

  • Participants were recruited from the parkrun organization.
  • Internet-based questionnaires were used to collect data on running habits and birth outcomes (n=1293).
  • Women were further stratified into the following groups: did not run during pregnancy, stopped running in first trimester or when they discovered they were pregnant, stopped in their second trimester, and ran throughout all trimesters.
  • Funding: None disclosed.

Limitations

  • Questionnaires are subject to recall bias.