Ask an expert

09 Apr 2006

Heartrate in pregnancy
Dear Doc

I am 4 wks pregnant. As of the 1 Jan
I have been gyming 5x a week and have been working with a biokinetikist. We have just done a adjustment programme as I am a lot fitter and stronger now (before I found out I was pregnant), It is about 7 hours a week and my heart rate is at about 160bpm during cardio for about 5 min at a time. I do interval cardio training for a total of 40 min. I am 33. My weight training is quite intense. Can I leave it as is for the first trimester and down scale in the second trimester?

Thank you
Answer 417 views

01 Jan 0001

Hi Belinda

Actually, the first trimester is where you probably want to scale it down a bit. The first trimester is the most risky stage, in terms of losing the pregnancy, and so exercise in this phase is certainly most risky. There are a number of reasons for this, but the bottom line is that your exercise intensity must be very carefully controlled and you should rather err on the side of caution and not train hard in this time. Perhaps the interval training can be put on hold for a while - it's not the time to get fitter, just to maintain.

The next hotspot is the third trimester, though here it is a large practical consideration in that your center of weight is different and your joints are susceptible to damage, and it's just plain uncomfortable to do certain exercises.

You can do most activities in the gym such as cycling, treadmill, stepper and weight training. You will need to however avoid exercises on your back for extended periods or on your stomach. During pregnancy your body produces a hormone called Relaxin, which makes your ligaments lax in preparation for the birth. Therefore it is not advised that you do any jumping or jarring activities, as this will put you at greater risk to injury.

Here are some general guidelines for exercise:

• Avoid exercises that involve the VALSALVA manoeuvre or holding your breath. This means no lifting of heavy weights which force you to strain or hold your breath.
• Avoid exercises that involve lying on your back after the 4th month (after the first trimester) as the pregnant uterus may compress the aorta and cause a decrease of blood flow to the fetus.
• Avoid exercise in which there is danger of loss of balance.
• Avoid long periods of motionless standing

Good luck
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
32% - 9467 votes
68% - 20217 votes