Indoor Cycling During Pregnancy

pregnant woman indoor cycling

FatCamera / Getty Images

You’ve probably heard that exercising during pregnancy is good for both the parent-to-be and the baby. After all, staying physically active while you’re pregnant can enhance blood circulation, ease backaches, improve digestion and sleep, boost your mood and energy, help manage weight gain, and promote muscle tone, strength, and endurance (all of which you’ll need for childbirth).

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises pregnant people to exercise often during pregnancy, especially those who were physically active prior to becoming pregnant. In addition, the guidelines indicate that people who regularly engaged in vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise prior to pregnancy may continue these activities during their pregnancy.

According to the ACOG, observational studies of pregnant people who exercise show benefits such as decreased gestational diabetes mellitus, cesarean birth and operative vaginal delivery, and postpartum recovery time. The ACOG also notes that exercise can be helpful in preventing postpartum depression.

The ACOG states that stationary cycling has been “extensively studied in pregnancy and found to be safe and beneficial." Still, it’s important to exercise wisely during the nine-month stretch, especially to accommodate your changing body—not only the extra pounds you’re toting around, but also your increasingly relaxed ligaments, the shift in your center of gravity, and so on.

Cycling Safety During Pregnancy

Indoor cycling is ideal because you won’t confront balance challenges or have a heavy impact on your joints. Whether you choose spin classes like SoulCycle or Flywheel or on-demand classes like Peloton, there are many types of indoor cycling workouts to try.

Compared to outdoor cycling, indoor cycling is safer during pregnancy. Outdoor cycling is not recommended because of the risk of falls and other dangers, such as traffic and weather conditions.

Although indoor cycling is generally safe during pregnancy, you should still get the green light from your OB/GYN in case you have any underlying medical conditions that might limit your activity options.

Taking an Indoor Cycling Class While Pregnant

If your doctor clears you for indoor cycling, it’s important to take certain precautions. For starters, remember that you’re essentially exercising for two, which means it’s easier for your heart rate to elevate more quickly and for you to become overheated. Take it easier on the bike than you would if you weren’t pregnant.

Also, keep in mind that it’s best to continue with any exercise you were doing pre-pregnancy vs. starting a new routine. Here are some other helpful tips for having a safe ride.

Talk to the Instructor Beforehand

It's a good idea to seek out an instructor who has some training in prenatal exercise. Whether or not you’re showing yet, tell the instructor that you’re pregnant before the class starts.

This way, they can keep an eye on how you're doing and won’t push you too hard. They can also give you important pointers on how to modify the ride to suit your needs. Another tip is to try to stick with the same instructor whenever you can so they can get to know you and are familiar with your modifications and needs.

Stay Cool and Well Hydrated

Wear comfortable, breathable clothing that will help you stay cool and a bra that offers plenty of support to protect your swollen breasts. Drink lots of water throughout the workout—even more than usual.

Note that both overheating and dehydration are common during pregnancy and can be dangerous for both the parent and the baby. Since you're carrying an extra 20 to 30 pounds and have 40% more blood pumping through your body, you are likely to sweat more and can easily become dehydrated.

Modify Your Bike Set-Up

As your pregnant body continues to change, you may need to adjust the saddle position and raise the handlebars to stay comfortable. It’s a good idea to sit more upright (which means raising the handlebars and bringing them closer to you), instead of leaning forward, to relieve strain on your lower back.

Another goal is to keep your weight more evenly distributed between your hands and body. Also, avoid moveable bikes that mimic outdoor riding, as they can lean sideways, which might cause a fall).

Dial Down Your Intensity

During pregnancy, it’s best to exercise at a moderate intensity, especially during indoor cycling. To make sure you stay in a safe intensity, you might wear a heart-rate monitor.

It’s also helpful to pay attention to the Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE). Even if your heart rate isn’t too high, if you’re gasping for breath or feeling lightheaded, you should slow down or stop exercising immediately.

The ACOG guidelines indicate that 13-14 (“somewhat hard”) on the Borg RPE scale is a safe and acceptable level of exertion. The guidelines also state that RPE is a better gauge of exertion than heart rate and that the “talk test” can be another good indicator of safe intensity. In other words, you should be able to hold a conversation while you're exercising.

Stay in the Saddle

During the early months of pregnancy, you may be able to ride in a standing position without any problems. But as your growing belly changes your body’s center of gravity it puts more pressure on your joints, which can make it difficult to ride standing. Don’t worry: You can still get a good workout if you stay seated the whole time—and most importantly, you’ll avoid overdoing it or injuring yourself.

Joints are looser or more flexible during pregnancy, which makes standing while cycling more difficult and risky.

Heed Your Body's Signals

Listening to your body while you're exercising is crucial, but it is especially important while you’re pregnant. If you get winded, dizzy, or don’t feel well while you're riding, take a break or take your effort down a few notches.

And if a 45- or 60-minute class is too intense for you, feel free to depart early (just let the instructor know you’re OK). During pregnancy, your energy is likely to ebb and flow, along with other symptoms, so pay attention to your body's signals and take care of it accordingly.

The ACOG states that you should stop exercising if you experience any of the following warning signs:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Amniotic fluid leakage
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath) before exertion
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness affecting balance
  • Regular painful contractions
  • Vaginal bleeding


Call your doctor if you experience any sharp pain, contractions, a gush of fluid, sudden severe headache, prolonged swelling, or if you notice a decrease in movement from the baby.

A Word From Verywell

Exercise that includes indoor cycling during pregnancy is generally safe and recommended by experts. Just be sure to monitor your heart rate and/or RPE to make sure you don't overdo it. As a general rule of thumb, you should be able to maintain a conversation while you're working out. Remember that the best type of exercise is the one that a pregnant person enjoys and will stick with throughout their pregnancy.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hinman SK, Smith KB, Quillen DM, Smith MS. Exercise in pregnancy: a clinical reviewSports Health. 2015;7(6):527–531. doi:10.1177/1941738115599358

  2. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Exercise during pregnancy. Updated July 2019.

  3. Physical activity and exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period: acog committee opinion, number 804Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2020;135(4):e178-e188. doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000003772