Planning to exercise during pregnancy ? You might have been told you need to monitor your heart rate or that it can only be at a certain level.
Do not raise heart rate above 140 bpm.
140 bpm (or beats per minute) was the so called “safe” level set several years ago. Women were told it was unsafe to exercise above this level. However this recommendation was removed in 1994 from the ACOG guidelines – so it is now a myth ! Pregnant Women can exercise with a raised heart rate for shorter periods and at lower rates for longer periods. As every woman has a different level of fitness and resting heart rate – setting a guideline rate such as 140 bpm is too hard to effectively monitor.
How to self monitor your heart rate during pregnancy exercise
As a guideline try to aim for 15-20 min of low impact cardio 2-3 times a week. The official ACOG guidelines now recommend the “talk test” This means you should be able to hold a conversation while exercising. If you can do this then both you and your baby are in a safe range during exercise.
Don’t let pregnancy myths stop you from exercising
There are so many benefits when exercising during pregnancy. If you are exercising regularly and in a safe range, the size of your placenta increases, and so does its capacity to exchange oxygen and CO2, and nutrients and waste products. This provides amazing nourishment for your baby.
It is also not necessary to wear a heart rate monitor when pregnant and exercising to monitor your exertion. It is much easier to listen to your body for signs of over exertion – these include excess sweating, inability to talk, bright red face, dizziness.
Everyone is different – some women may feel over exerted at 100 bpm while other women who are super fit and have been exercising prior to pregnancy might be fine at 165bpm. So it is important to trust your own response to exercise and know the warning signs when to stop and speak to your trainer or doctor if you have any concerns.