Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

Exercise during pregnancy: Is heart rate a concern?

I've exercised regularly for years. Now that I'm pregnant, do I need to limit my heart rate while I exercise?

Updated: 07-30-2011

Answer

If you exercised regularly before pregnancy, there's no need to focus on your heart rate for exercise during pregnancy.

Years ago, some experts recommended a heart rate of no more than 140 beats a minute for exercise during pregnancy. Today, however, heart rate limits aren't typically imposed during pregnancy. For healthy women, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity — preferably spread throughout the week — without any specific heart rate limits.

Still, reasonable precautions for exercise during pregnancy are important. Get your health care provider's OK for any exercise during pregnancy — especially if you have a history of preterm labor or certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure. Also, be careful to pace yourself appropriately. In general, you should be able to carry on a conversation while you're exercising. If you can't speak normally while you're working out, you're probably pushing yourself too hard. This could lead to vaginal bleeding, uterine contractions or other problems