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Sports and Exercise

Should I monitor my heart rate when exercising?



That may depend on your exercise intensity and workout goals. As long as you have a low-risk pregnancy with no contraindications, such as high blood pressure or symptoms of premature labor, exercise is good for you, and aiming for a target heart rate can help you work out at an appropriate level. While the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women use the "talk test" when exercising (if you can talk normally, your heart rate is acceptable), in 2002 Canadian experts suggested utilizing target heart rates. But since those rates were based solely on age, they are inappropriate for some women, including those who are sedentary or very fit, says Michelle F. Mottola, Ph.D., director of the Exercise and Pregnancy Lab at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. The new guidelines establish target rates according to age and fitness level.

"Women can still use the talk test to stay in the correct range, but now they can be even more precise with their workout goals," Mottola says. The best way to determine your heart rate is to wear a monitor, or you can measure your pulse for six seconds and multiply by 10.


Fitness Level Target heart rate: ages 20-29 Target heart rate: ages 30-39
Unfit (sedentary and/or overweight) 129-144 128-144
Active (exercise occasionally) 132-152 129-148
Fit (exercise regularly at high intensity) 145-160 140-156

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From <i>Pregnancy Q&A</i> by Carole Anderson Lucia, February/March 2007

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