Parkrun is something of a phenomenon. 1.25 million people in 450 countries take part in them every weekend. The weekly 5k runs take place in parks across the world, by people of all ages and abilities. This inadvertently creates the perfect situation to carry out various studies on hobbiest runners. Such was the case in a recent study carried out on pregnant women, the first and largest of its kind.
The purpose of the study was to find out if running had any effect on the pregnancy, as well as the size of the child when born and the difficulty of the birth.
1293 women, from all over the world, responded to the study request sent out in Parkrun’s newsletter, making this a truly global study.
Details of previous pregnancies were collated, including gestation of delivery, birthweight and pregnancy complications. These were related to expected baby size by taking into account mothers’ ethnicity, height, weight, and baby’s gender, allowing for an accurate assessment of running impact on pregnancy.
The study was lead by Professor Andy Shennan, an academic obstetrician from Kings College London. The study found that running, of any mileage or intensity, had no effect on pregnancy with gestation period and baby weight remaining consistent with previous pregnancies. The only effect that was noted was a slight increase in assisted vaginal delivery, likely due to the strengthened pelvic floor muscles gained from running.
This is fantastic news for female running enthusiasts, who can now run in confidence during pregnancy knowing that they are likely not doing any harm to themselves or their baby.
The original study can be found here – http://bmjopensem.bmj.com/content/4/1/e000296