I get asked all the time about what pregnant women should keep in mind while doing cardio during pregnancy. These are the “rules” that I recommend following during all of your prenatal workouts, but especially while performing cardio exercises.
Use The Talk Test
Years ago (like in the 1980’s) the rule of thumb was that pregnant women should aim to keep their heart rate below 140 BPM. FALSE!!! That advice was debunked back in the 90’s by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The problem with that rule is that your max heart rate is going to vary based on a number of factors such as: fitness level, type of exercise you’re doing, what you ate or how you slept the night before. So forget the 140 BPM (It’s too much work anyways.), and instead use the talk test.
While working out, you are now going to be the crazy person that talks out loud (Hey better crazy than unsafe, right?). Now if you’re working out in the privacy of your own home, who cares? If you are working out around other people, still who cares? Your goal is to keep you and your baby safe! So while you are exercising, I recommend having a little conversation to ensure that you are not overdoing it. If you are talking out loud and your voice sounds labored, dial back the intensity. The goal is to be able to talk out loud comfortably. You can work out, you can get sweaty, you can challenge yourself, but you need to do it in a way that keeps you and your baby safe.
Avoid Becoming Overheated
My second rule is to not get overheated during your prenatal exercise. It has been shown in studies that when a pregnant woman’s body temperature exceeds 102 degrees fahrenheit for more than 10 minutes, the baby can be negatively affected. So, in my opinion, let’s make sure you are not getting too hot.
So what can you do? If you are wearing layers, take some of them off. You can also keep a wet washcloth close by when you’re working out to cool yourself down. Remember that sweat is not a bad thing; sweat helps your body cool itself down. You are going to sweat while your pregnant. You have increased blood flow, your metabolism is higher, and you are working for two so it makes sense that you are going to be a little bit sweatier. Ask yourself if you are sweating because you are pregnant or because you are working too hard. If you are working too hard and feel uncomfortable, turn down the intensity.
Hydrate. Hydrate. HYDRATE!
Lastly, just a reminder that you and your baby need water so don’t be shy about drinking water all day long, and especially before, during, and after a workout. It may even help with swelling.
So that’s what I got! Pretty easy to remember, right? Let me know if you have any additional questions in the comments, or watch this video if you prefer some visuals.