In general, exercise during pregnancy can be a controversial topic. Only walk. Don’t lift over 20 pounds. Don’t let your heart rate get above 140. What if prior to pregnancy you did a heck of a lot more than that? Does that mean you have to completely limit your exercise routine? NOT AT ALL.
It can be very difficult for women to figure out what a safe intensity may be during pregnancy. Unfortunately, many health care providers, coaches and instructors are also unsure. Meaning the answers you may get from different sources can be conflicting and frustrating. The ultimate concern is fetal bradycardia (a decreased heart rate in baby) and a decrease in blood flow to the uterus can occur at >90% of VO2max. This ultimately means that high intensity exercise *may* have negative effects on fetal health.
Pregnant women have an increased blood volume, resting heart rate and cardiac output – this occurs very early on in pregnancy. Due to these things, your heart rate may jump close to 140 with as little as a brisk walk. Also, many women do not know their VO2max, so it is important to have other ways to monitor intensity during pregnancy.
The Talk Test: This is a great way to monitor your intensity during a workout. A pregnant woman should be able to maintain a conversation during the entirety of a workout. Whether this be during a walk, a run, or while weightlifting. If you don’t think that you can maintain a conversation, it is likely too intense.
During pregnancy, it is important to remember that this is not a time for PRs. Remember: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. You should be exercising to maintain strength, mobility, flexibility and overall well being. Healthy mom literally creates a healthy baby!
Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing a variety of other topics surrounding exercise safety and modifications during pregnancy.