We all know the importance of exercise. But just how much intensity should your workout have? Fitness Expert Sara Jones explains.
Sara Jones

Your question:
I am now pregnant with my third child. My other two are 12 and eight years old. I worked out some with both of my other pregnancies and would like to with this pregnancy. However, it was eight or nine years ago, have exercise guidelines changed? Before while I was pregnant, I was told that I am not supposed to get my heart rate above 140 beats per minute. Is this still true? -- Amy B.

The fitness expert answers:
Not really. The old American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' (ACOG) recommendation was to not elevate your heart rate above 140 beats per minute. Now it is updated to say that everyone is different and has individual body chemistries.

Also, your pregnant body changes so much after conception that you need to understand those changes before starting an exercise program. While pregnant, your cardiac output increases 40 to 50 percent, which in turn, increases your resting heart rate anywhere from 10 to 20 beats per minute.

During pregnancy, you need more oxygen for fetal development. This means that at rest, a typical resting heart rate would be 70 bpm but the same woman (now pregnant) has a resting heart rate of 85 bpm just by being pregnant.

Also there are so many other factors that affect heart rate, for example fitness condition. A marathoner may have a resting heart rate of 45 bpm and a sedentary person may have a resting heart rate of 95 bpm -- all due to fitness level. And there are always the exceptions to the rule -- someone who genetically has a high or low resting heart rate naturally.

So, ACOG has put out new guidelines saying that you should use the "Rate of Perceived Exertion" scale instead of a heart rate test. The RPE scale is basically a scale ranging from 1 to 10 (or Borg's scale of 6 to 20) depicting how hard you think you are working with 1 being no exertion at all (just sitting there) to 10 being maximal exertion (100 percent adrenaline).

A prenatal woman's workout intensity should be between a 5 and 8 on the 10 point scale. And keep in mind, never work to the point of exhaustion. At the end of your workout, you should feel energized and ready to face the rest of your day!PregnancyAndBaby.com


recommended for you