Nell McAndrew on exercising while pregnant

Nell McAndrew
Nell McAndrew stretches after a workout

Multiple-marathon runner Nell McAndrew is used to clocking up 80 miles a week when she's in training. But now she's pregnant with her second child (due in March 2013) she has cut down to six miles a day, plus two trips to the gym each week.

As a self-confessed running addict, there was no way she was going to give up exercise altogether, and with a high level of basic fitness she feels happy to continue working out through her pregnancy.

Nell runs through her pregnancy

'It’s good to feel fit and strong. It feels like I’m doing lots of good for the baby because there’s lots of oxygen pumping around my body,' Nell says.

Her regime would certainly not be right for anyone less fit, however. If you have any concerns about exercise during pregnancy, consult your midwife or GP. It's important not to over-heat or overdo things. Listen to your body and make sure you stay well-hydrated. If you belong to a gym, seek advice from a PT who specialises in ante-natal exercise.

Exercise safely during pregnancy with these workout tips

When Nell was expecting her son Devon six years ago, she continued to run right up to the seven-month mark. ‘I plodded – or shuffled – around a 10k,’ she admits.

She then switched to the exercise bike but still carried on her gym classes. ‘Exercise is the only time I had for me. It’s part of my work – plus I do it mainly because I enjoy it.’

Running brought a sense of normality, Nell says. ‘I wanted to feel like I was still part of society. I can go out of the house feeling grumpy and miserable or stressed and come back feeling brilliant and that everything’s wonderful. I have time to think and clear my head and nothing is quite as bad when I get back.

‘I’m still running to get that brilliant feeling but not pushing myself to the limit or puffing and panting and getting red-faced. You should feel like you can chat to somebody. If at any point anything aches more than it normally does or if there’s any pain - just stop.’

Nell McAndrew on why she loves running

‘I fit it in just after the school drop-off. The first thing I do in a morning is put my kit on. I’ll walk Devon to school and then run the long way home. It’s the easiest thing to fit into my day. I can go for a run and be back in 45 minutes.'

To complement her running, Nell works on strength moves for her legs and core - something she’s still sticking to. ‘I do squats with a bar. I still feel really comfortable doing that. I do a plank on the floor section. It’s good solid exercises that work.'

Best body strength bar moves

At the moment she’s also enjoying a morning swim, ‘It makes me feel alert, awake and ready for the day.'

Her advice for working out while pregnant? 'Continue doing what you normally do, whether it’s the gym, Bodypump, a fitness DVD, running, swimming: just carry on, but take the intensity down.'

As for nutrition, with the amount of exercise she does, Nell has no excuse for cutting back the calories. And chocolate definitely has a place in her diet. It was her 39th birthday the day we chatted, and she happily demolished a large slab of cake during the interview.

‘My son will probably have another cake for me when I get home too,' she admits. 'Last night I made homemade chips followed by chocolate. Chocolate is my weakness.’

Despite the treats, Nell is generally as meticulous with her diet as she is with her running. Today she comes equipped with a bag packed with corn cakes, fish oils, iron supplements, an avocado and tomato sandwich, and a huge tub of home-prepped yoghurt, oatbran and strawberries.

‘I tend to carry this around when I’m working,’ she says.

How Nell keeps up her energy levels

Nell finished the 2012 Virgin London Marathon in an impressive 2 hrs 54mins 39secs, knocking almost 14 minutes off her PB. So how soon after the birth will she be back on the treadmill? She's undecided as yet.

‘This year I was the fittest I’ve ever been in my whole life,’ she tells us.

‘Hopefully after the pregnancy, when I’ve recovered – however long that will take – I can pick it back up again.’

Nell’s new workout DVD, Peak Energy Recharged, is released on 31 December 2012, RRP £12.99.