pregnant woman jogging on a trial next to a hillside

Heart rate and exercise during pregnancy

Expectant moms know that exercise is good for both you and Baby. It prepares you to give birth, keeps you healthy, and helps Baby get all of the nutrients she needs, but you need to remember not to get your heart rate too high. A slower heart rate gives your ticker time to supply blood to Baby, not just replenish your blood supply.

If you let your heart rate get too high, you’ll start to sweat and this makes it difficult to cool down (it’s hard enough during pregnancy!) and takes blood flow from the baby. Strenuous exercise could also lead to overheating during your first trimester, which could be dangerous down the road. Traditionally, healthcare providers recommended keeping heart rate below 140, but this isn’t a good measure for all women, and it is no longer the rule.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, pregnant women should rely more on "perceived exertion", or how their workout feels, to determine if they're overdoing it. It's recommended that once pregnant women get their exercise approved by a provider, they follow the talk test guideline, which is: “If you can’t talk without panting, then you’re overdoing it.” So, try to keep your levels at the point where you can still talk out loud.

It’s okay if your heart rate goes over a little bit, but be sure to drink plenty of water and take breaks. Women who aren't accustomed to high intensity workouts should avoid starting a high intensity regimen during pregnancy.  So, size down your weights, scale back your distance, and don't even think about competing in your local Ironman competition!

Reviewed by Dr. Jamie Lo
Read more
  • Roger W. Harms, M.D. "I've exercised regularly for years. Now that I'm pregnant, do I need to limit my heart rate while I exercise?" Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 7/11/2014. Web.
  • Luci Coffey. "Elevated Heart Rate During Pregnancy." Livestrong. Livestrong, 4/14/2015. Web.
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