anybody running or exercising? thoughts about the 140 HR restriction — The Bump
1st Trimester

anybody running or exercising? thoughts about the 140 HR restriction

so at my first appt I asked my OB if it was cool for me to keep running as long as I felt good, didn't go crazy, and scaled back my mileage some. She gave me the stink eye, wrinkled up her nose and said she did NOT like running, to maybe try walking instead. When I pushed her as to why, she eventually said it'd prolly be ok to continue running as long as I kept my heart rate below 140. I didn't argue or ask any more questions bc at that point I was feeling like a terrible person who was stubbornly endangering her baby.

From what I've read, the 140 heart rate thing is totally arbitrary and the ACOG rescinded that recommendation several years ago, instead switching to rate of perceived exertion to determine if you were exercising too strenuously during pregnancy.  

My issue is that my heart rate is naturally high, so I easily hit and pass 140. I'm on the treadmill running slowly, still able to sing and loudly complain to my husband about how much this stupid heart rate restriction sucks, and my heart rate is above 140. Have been stopping to check it every half mile, walk till it comes down, then start again more slowly. It sucks and I think it's stupid but I'm not a doctor so have been trying to stick to it until my next appt when I can ask her to explain the rationale and see what's up. 

But tonight during our after dinner walk my husband asked why I was being so stubborn about the whole running thing, suggesting that maybe i should just stick to walking until my next appt (bc EVERY time i run, even a mile, my heart rate is in the 140s or a lil above, so even tho I stop to walk, it still gets up there for a lil bit). 

I'm so frustrated. I know I'm pregnant. I want to have a safe and healthy pregnancy with a happy and healthy baby. But sometimes it feels like the only safe thing for me to do is sit on my butt and eat. And how unhealthy is that? At this point I feel great and would like to continue running but I totally don't want to risk the baby's health...thanks for letting me vent and any thoughts/advice would be appreciated

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Re: anybody running or exercising? thoughts about the 140 HR restriction

  • My doctor told me that I could still run. That it did not matter how high my heart rate got that it would not hurt the baby. I would say you are fine to run I know lots of people that ran when they were pregnant. Also he said as long as you were doing it before you got pregnant you could still do it now. Good luck!
  • I'd find another OB.....or midwife. Because the HR thing is pretty debunked.
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  • Keep running!  just listen to your body and stop if you are really winded, can't carry on a conversation, etc.  my good friend ran a half marathon at 5 months, so i'd say running isn't bad as long asyou were running before you were pregnant.
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  • I agree with pp. Everything reputable I've ever read says that running is GOOD for your pregnancy and baby, assuming you were a runner before you got pregnant. My doctor waved off the heartrate recommendation, and just said that I should be able to have a conversation while I'm exercising. She said that whatever exercise I was doing before, I can keep doing throughout pregnancy (except obvious things like snowboarding, horseback riding, etc). I have a friend who runs marathons who ran all the way through - literally - she went for a run the morning before she delivered! And who knows if it's related, but she had a very short, very easy delivery. 
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  • My doctor encouraged continued exercising and said that if I became crampy or spotted afterward, to scale back.  He was very positive about it and did not mention anything about the heart rate, just said to listen to your body!  I do not run, but I lift weights and do cardio.  I haven't really changed my cardio and have cut back on the amount of weight I lift so I'm not straining.
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  • My OB told me that the 140 HR "rule" is incredibly outdated. He said that they strongly encourage exercise, to stop wearing my HR monitor, and to listen to my body. I run, do spin, and take a TRX glass twice a week - he said all of that was great and to keep it up, just don't be surprised that my endurance won't be as good (which it definitely isn't, lol)
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  • Mine said just don't introduce anything new but to pay attention to it and aim for 160. That is still not a good workout. I used to hold a steady 175 and still feel ok... But I've cut back to 150-160 bc it's not worth the risk IMO. (as I set my alarm for my 5:45am spinning class)!! ETA: a friend of mine did an ironman 6 weeks pregnant. She found out about 10 days after the race when she still felt crappy ;)
  • My doctor held a class last night.  She said if we had not been exercising start, if we were already don't stop.  She advised not to go crazy and no weight lifting above 25lbs.  She also made a comment that most women don't life above 25lbs anyway, which I do.  I was also told that the more exercise the better everything goes in the pregnancy.  There is a lot of new information showing how much better exercise is for pregnant women than they thought.

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  • I am having the same problem as you. I have a naturally high HR and I wanted to continue going to Zumba. When I told my OB that I rarely stay under 140 she said she would actually prefer closer to 120.  :/

    I went to a half hour class yesterday and hit a max of 156. I tried to keep it between 130 and 150 but it was really hard. It sucks to stop doing something I really like but I would hate for something to go wrong and wonder if it was because of that.  



  • I work out with a trainer 3 times a week and do spin class on the other 2 days.  I also try to fit in a yoga class and my DH and I rock climb (see siggy).  When I had my DS, all I did was walk and not very much really because I was afraid of having another m/c (I had one before DS that had nothing to do with exercise).  

    Needless to say, I ate my way through all of the Holidays and gained 60 yep, SIXTY pounds with my Son.  I lost only 40 of it.  

    I plan to continue with all my exercise but just modify it if needed, take more breaks and listen to my body.  I will not - CAN NOT gain that much weight again.  I'm already 30 pounds overweight.   

    I want to enjoy this pregnancy and feel good about my body and my spirit and that would be impossible without exercise. 

    If you were running before you were pregnant, you should continue.  Slow down a bit and cut back on your mileage.  GL!  

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  • I'm a spin instructor and I also have a higher natural HR, right now I aim to keep it below 160 for the majority of the time but not to go above 170, there were times during a tough teaching class before getting pregnant that I'd get up to 185, so I've scaled back and just listen to my body
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  • my doc said do what feels right.  My heart rate always skyrockets and he said that was fine
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  • I have to agree with what PP stated.  If you have been runing all this time before becoming pregnant than listen to you body.  Your body will tell you if you are working it out to much.  Just pay attention.  I would just slowly bring your heart rate up and down if you can.  Start at a walk to a jog than to a run.  This way you can judge your body and see what it is telling you.  Good luck
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  • I'm pretty sure several of the female OBs in my office are runners themselves and wouldn't advocate what your OB prescribed.  I also go by a perceived rate of exertion.  I pretty much try to not get to a point where I can't hold a conversation.  As long as I'm not too hot or breathless, I keep going at the same rate.  the only time I've been cautioned to slow down was when working out in the 2nd tri when I became light headed.  I wasn't drinking enough water and my OB threatened to put me on rest if I didn't cool it.  It never happened again, though.
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  • My OB is fine with me continuing to run the same amount I did before I got pregnant, which is about 15-20 miles a week split up into 5 mile runs.  I DO take a few walk breaks more than usual, but I have several friends who are marathoners and there is a lot of new research that actually shows a walk break to bring your h/r down allows your body to release fat to be burned, so I figure it's doing two things when I take a break.  My indurance is NOT what it used to be, but I'm managing.  I love running and fall weather is starting where I live so there is NO WAY I'm giving this up, but I will when I am around 4-5 months pregnant as winter temps set in.
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  • I had an aerobics teacher in high school who was pregnant. Right up until she popped out the baby, she was teaching the class and jumping and spinning and out-aerobics-ing all of us high school girls, while we sweated and panted and watched her in amazement (I was very fit at this time, too.) I'm sure our heart rates were over 140. She also continued her appointments with her personal trainer throughout the pregnancy. Then again, she was Wonder Woman...
  • I'm a runner too and have scaled back significantly from what I was doing before. I don't go out as often, don't run as far or as fast, and run for 10 mins and walk for 1min.
    I'm not so worried about HR, etc.

    But have been having serious anxiety related to overheating -- am I working too hard and causing birth defects? I went out for a run a few days ago and it was stupid hot and now I'm worried. Running used to relieve my stress, now that I'm pg I feel as though it's causing it.


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  • you can keep doing whatever you were doing. Your body will naturally scale it back for you anyway via first trimester exhaustion, then later you will just feel different and things will seem harder, certain things will hurt etc.

    My midwife just said keep doing whatever, if something hurts, don't do it. She said up to 20 weeks everything is fine, then maybe certain things will begin to get uncomfortable, balance will be off etc. But to just listen to your body.

    there was no mention of heartbeat which is a silly measurment anyway as people vary so much. Putting any sort of blanket statement out there like that (140bpm) is dumb because for some people that would be TOO high and for some, that would happen when just warming up.

    The 25lbs thing is dumb too. Don't lift more than 25lbs? Regardless of whether you weigh 100 or 200lbs or how much experience you have with weight lifting?

    Mine said, you will probably have to reduce your weights a little anyway due to feeling weaker and more tired (true) but don't have to drop it back too much. Last time i went instead of using 115-125lbs for barbell squats, I just stopped at 95lbs as I was tired.

    So I'd say listen to your body! If you feel really tired when running, don't be afraid to take a walk break or slow down a minute or two per mile. Just get out there. Being a lazy bum is no good for anyone (unless you are spotting/on bed rest etc.).

    Of course, I am the laziest bum there is right now as I am barely getting to the gym at all. Toooo tired. But I plan to get back in there regularly as soon as this incessant cloud of nausea and exhaustion lifts!


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  • My doctor told me to keep running and she has been encouraging women to keep a healthy and active lifestyle through the entire pregnany. She never mentioned keeping my heartbeat below a certain point. Good luck!
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