Concerned about what rate your heart should be beating at during your pregnancy workouts? Read on for how you can ensure you are exercising safely!
What IS the safe heart rate for pregnant women?
There’s no single answer that works for everyone – the optimum heart rate during pregnancy exercise will depend on your age, weight and, most importantly your pre-pregnancy fitness levels.
Borg Scale of Exertion
In the past, pregnant women were advised to keep their heart rate at less than 140 beats per minute, however more recently the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion is cited as a more appropriate monitor.
The lower end of this scale is how you’d feel if you were sitting in a chair, the top is how you’d feel if you were doing the hardest work you’ve ever done. Aim for somewhere in the middle – pregnancy exercise should feel ‘somewhat hard’ without an uncomfortable level of exertion.
This scale allows you to monitor the intensity of your workout without the need to measure your heart rate. If you’re training with someone else, be aware that the perceived exertion rate is very individual and that your pregnant bestie might feel very different to you – it’s important to listen to your body and maintain an exertion level that feels right for you.
Heart rate guidelines for pregnant women
If you have a heart rate monitor and can’t resist checking it, RCOG provides some general guidelines for heart rates during pregnancy based on age and designed for women who exercise regularly.
|Maternal Age||Heart rate target zone (beats per minute|
|Less than 20 years||140-155|
|Over 40 years||125-140|
The ‘Talk Test’
The easiest way to keep a check on your levels of exertion is to adhere to the ‘talk test’. If you’re exercising too hard to carrying on talking, ease up, you’re doing too much. Don’t push yourself to a level that makes it difficult to hold a conversation.
Keep your heart strong
With up to 50% more blood in your system during pregnancy your heart has to work even harder, regular cardio exercise during pregnancy will keep it strong. Keeping your heart strong is good for your baby too: research has shown that pregnant women who exercise tend to have lower resting heart rates, a sign of an efficient heart – but it seems this is passed onto their babies too, improving their heart function even before birth.
FittaTip: Water melon can help reduce your heart rate and soothe your aching muscles after your pregnancy workout.