Bump up the cardio, baby!

I remember sitting bow-legged on the instructor bike and my class looking at me like they were thinking, maybe it’s time, Raychel.  That was exactly one week before I gave birth and I was already one-week past due!  So, if you want my personal opinion, I would say, yes, you can keep riding. I am living proof with a now 17-year-old baby, that for me it was okay.  But I’m no pregnancy expert, so I went to the official sources to find out – what does science have to say about exercise, and specifically, indoor cycling, while pregnant?

Pregnancy isn’t the time to throw in the towel on your fitness, nor is it time to exercise for two, but according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), some exercise during pregnancy is helpful in reducing back pain, promoting healthy weight gain, and strengthening the heart and blood vessels.

The general rule for pregnancy is that, so long as you are healthy and have a normal pregnancy, moderate exercise during pregnancy is just what the doctor ordered.  

This does not mean to suggest that if you haven’t exercised before you became pregnant that you should jump right in now that you are.  It is important to slowly build up your endurance, strength, and cardiovascular ability, just as you would when not pregnant.  

And before beginning any exercise regimen, everyone should be sure to check with their healthcare provider to be sure that it is right for you.  Hopefully, you are good to go, and can derive the many great benefits that it can offer your mental and physical states.  

The great news about indoor cycling is that it is an excellent way for pregnant women to get low impact cardiovascular activity that is safe into the 3rd trimester.  Cycling is good for sleep, mood, and easing back pain and it can even help you build the stamina you will need for pregnancy, childbirth, and, don’t forget, keeping up with that toddler in the blink of an eye.

So, if you feel ready to give cycling a spin…here are a few basics to follow to make sure you stay healthy and return to the bike regularly!

#1 – Keep your cool

This is SUPER important.  When you are pregnant, your core body temperature increases.  Add to that a good dose of sweaty cycle and it is easy to overheat (getting to 102 degrees F or more) which can be dangerous for the baby if it goes on too long.

Here are some ideas for how to keep your cool:

  • Wear moisture-wicking clothes
  • Sit near a fan, maybe even bring in a personal clip-on fan and add it to the end of your handlebars.

#2  – Your new favorite cocktail – water!

As per #1 and always the rule of thumb – drink up, baby!  20 oz before, 20 oz during and 20 oz after.

#3 – Let’s not take your breath away

Pregnancy is not the time to be building your anaerobic endurance. For now, keep your breath to where you can hold a “breathy” conversation.  This means keeping your exertion somewhere between light and somewhat challenging.

#4 Sit, sit, sit, sit, and sit

 While it is the current trend to stand up off the saddle during stationary bike classes, it is not recommended for pregnancy as your center of gravity is changed and it is easy to get thrown off balance.  Additionally, with more flexibility in the joints, it is possible to over stretch and put too much pressure on the knees.

#5 Location location location

While you might know you are ALWAYS a saddle height F and fore/aft 6, that may not be the case anymore.  More likely you will need to reposition the bike each time you get on during your pregnancy where changes in your body are happening daily.  Some suggestions for modifications to your bike are:

  • Make the handlebars higher – handlebar height on a stationary bike is just about comfort
  • Adjust the fore/aft of the saddle to accommodate your growing belly

#6 Don’t make them wonder if you are pregnant or not!

Always tell the instructor you are pregnant so they can be sure to keep an eye on you, turn fans in your direction and understand what is happening if you are not doing what they are instructing, or need to cut out early.

This is a quick video of my niece-in-law, Erin, at 34 weeks, riding her Pel–on, showing great form, despite a big bump:

Here’s Dylan on their bike now with their son, Maxwell Fox Brannon (my great nephew)

Congrats on this exciting time in life.  Hope to see you on the bike pre- and post-baby!  

Be well,




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