ExercisePregnant stationary cycling tips

Pregnant stationary cycling tips

Gone are the days of ‘eating for two’ and putting your feet up for 9 months when you are ‘with child’. As you know, exercising when you are pregnant is good for you and your baby.

Many women get sore back or pelvic joints during pregnancy which may be stirred up by exercise such as walking, running, aerobics, yoga or general pilates classes. Some of these exercises can cause weakness of the pelvic floor too. Many women come to me for advice on how to keep active, without causing injury. One of the best and easiest ways for most pregnant women to exercise is on the stationary bike. In most areas, there are companies that hire out stationary bikes for around $10-20 a week. Google your area and do some searching. You’re looking for an upright (not reclining) bike, that you can alter the height of the seat and handle bars. If they have an option of a wide or cushioned seat, take it! All other fancy components are just bells and whistles. Or, if you have a gym membership, use their bikes. The great thing about a bike at home is that you can use it when the baby arrives (once your vag is ready to sit on a bike seat again – 4-6 weeks post-natal). Put your bub on the ground beside you, jump on the bike for 20-30 minutes and voila! Exercise, done!

Most health professionals do not recommend jumping on a road/moving bike after about 20 weeks of pregnancy, due to the changes in your balance and risk of falling off. And, check with your doctor/LMC that you are cleared to exercise.

Set up:

Adjust the seat so that when you sit on the bike, and you allow one leg to extend (where the pedal is at the bottom of its rotation), that leg has a slight bend in it (photo).

Image credit: https://www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy-living-article/60/3414/indoor-cycling-the-breakdown-on-bike-set-up/

Image credit: https://www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy-living-article/60/3414/indoor-cycling-the-breakdown-on-bike-set-up/

Bring the handlebars up so your hands rest comfortably on them, without your belly getting in the way too much (this will get more difficult as you get more pregnant, so you may have to keep raising the handlebars up each week). The more pregnant you are, the more upright you will sit.

Either move the handlebars or seat forward or back to a position when you can have a slight bend in your elbows, but it’s not tempting to rest all your weight on your handlebars.

Now what do I do on the bike?

The Borg scale: rating of perceived exertion. Image credit: http://www.vavaveteran.co.uk/tag/borg-scale/

The Borg scale: rating of perceived exertion. Image credit: http://www.vavaveteran.co.uk/tag/borg-scale/

Now you’re ready to start! Remember to work to the Borg scale. You are going to be doing intervals, so in your working interval, raise your heartrate so you’re sitting around 12-14, and during your rest intervals, your drop down to 8-9 on the Borg scale.

You can raise your heart rate by either doing:

  • hills (add on resistance, slow speed)

  • sprints (little bit of resistance, fast speed), or

  • combo (moderate resistance, moderate speed)

Always start with 5 minutes warm up with a little bit of resistance on, and 5 minutes cool down.

I encourage women to download an interval timer app (I have a free one called Interval Timer on my iPhone) or just use a stopwatch/phone to time it. The following are sample 30 minute workouts. Remember, sit at 12-14 on the Borg scale for your working intervals, and keep your legs spinning but drop the effort to 8-9 on the Borg scale for your rest intervals. 

Sample workouts:



  • Push your heels down on the down stroke, and lift them up on the up stroke.

  • Keep your hip, knee and ankle joint in line with each other

  • Relax the upper body – avoid gripping the handlebars or putting too much weight through your arms.

  • Make sure you have a water bottle with you, you have eaten something small about 30 minutes before (like a piece of fruit) and you have adequate ventilation/fan/air con to keep you cool.

Now, slip into your unitard, turn up your Beyonce/Rihanna/Mariah Carey mix and spin away!

NB: Some people tend to feel a little dizzy/lightheaded after a workout when pregnant. This is not uncommon and is usually due to the changes in your blood and heart from pregnancy. It is worthwhile mentioning it to your doctor/LMC. If cleared to exercise but still get dizzy, make sure you take a little longer to cool down, bringing your heart rate right down to resting before jumping off the bike. And make sure you are hydrated, have had enough to eat, and there in another person around if you need help.  If you do feel dizzy, lie down straight away until it passes, then sit up for a few minutes before standing. 

– the vagina physio

Image credit: http://www.musclestyles.com/6-exercise-during-pregnancy-to-keep-fit/

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