Working Out During Pregnancy: Is It Really Safe?



Knowing that you’re going to become a mother is one of the most exciting news you can get in life but pregnancy often comes with a number of different questions – especially if you’re a first-time mom. Can you exercise while you’re pregnant? What foods should you eat? What foods you shouldn’t eat?

But one of the most important questions you should be asking is if you need a heart rate monitor to measure your heart beat while exercising.

One of the most commonly-believed myths is that pregnant women should not exercise if they want to have a normal childbirth

Should You Exercise During Pregnancy?

Most women think that it’s safer to simply sit on a couch and do nothing but eat all day during the entire nine months of their pregnancy. However, most doctors agree that exercising is just as beneficial for pregnant women as it is for anyone else.

So, how much should you be exercising while your bun is in the oven? The answer is that it all depends on your heart rate.

Brad Schoenfeld, an assistant professor of exercise science says that it is one of the biggest myths that women can’t exercise while they’re pregnant. The truth is that they can be just as active as they were before they conceived but it is crucial to not ramp up the intensity or resistance beyond what they’re normally used to.

This is definitely good news for women who have been active for most part of their lives, and don’t want to lose their muscle definition or stamina during the pregnancy.

If you’re a passionate runner, you can continue to log those miles as long as you’re not running marathons. Crossfitters and weightlifters can also continue to lift heavy as long as they aren’t progressively overloading during the pregnancy which can increase the risk of complications.

But, what about those who haven’t ran a single mile or stepped into the gym even once in the past few years? This probably isn’t the best time to start.

First and Second Trimester

Fitness trainer Andrea Orbeck says that most of her clients who become pregnant at some point during their training program tend to face a big change in their energy levels during the first trimester. Many women complain about morning sickness, headaches or fatigue which can keep them from going to the gym, which is why it is okay to take breaks on days when ever getting up or climbing up the stairs feels like an impossible feat.

On days when you don’t feel as tired or awful, push yourself to do some exercise, even if all you can manage is a 10-minute sweat session. Orbeck says that women who suffer from morning sickness, fatigue, or nausea will see a significant improvement in the way they feel after exercising, even if it is for a few minutes.

After the first trimester is over, you should find your energy levels at an all-time high which means that now is the best opportunity for you to catch up on all the days that you slacked in the gym during the first 3 months of pregnancy. It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t over-exert or over-fatigue yourself during a workout.

Experts say that you can continue to exercise with the same intensity during the first and second trimester as you did before the pregnancy

If you feel like you’re running out of breath, take a small break to regain your stamina. Moreover, avoid the temptation to stay in the gym for any longer than an hour to avoid putting your and the baby’s health in danger.

Heart Rate and Final Months of Pregnancy

Back in the day, most doctors would advise women to invest in a heart rate monitor to keep an eye on their pulse rate while exercising but this method is long been phased out since different women can have different heart rates due to their physiological condition.

A simple way to ensure that you’re not overexerting yourself in the gym is a method called the ‘talk test’ which is simply paying attention to how comfortably you’re able to hold a conversation during exercise without running out of breath.

Once you reach the third trimester, it is advised to turn the intensity down a notch and get your daily dose of physical activity through jogging, walking, and doing yoga. Experts recommend reducing your weekly fitness limit to 30 to 60-minute workout session for no more than four times a week.

If you’re used to squatting, there’s no need to stop doing it even when you’re just weeks away from giving birth, although it is advised to go easy on the weight. Squats are great for engaging your core and pelvic muscles which will eventually help you in the delivery room.