Indoor Cycling During Pregnancy

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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 ACOG, observational studies of pregnant people who exercise show benefits such as reduced risk of gestational diabetes mellitus, cesarean birth, and operative vaginal delivery as well as reduced postpartum recovery time. Exercise can also be helpful in preventing postpartum depression.

Stationary cycling has been "extensively studied in pregnancy and found to be safe and beneficial," ACOG states. 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 considered 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.

Peloton While Pregnant

Taking Peloton or other cycling classes during pregnancy is safe—as long as a healthcare provider does not have any concerns. It’s important to take certain precautions. For starters, remember that you are 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 versus 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.

Your instructor can also give you important pointers on how to modify the ride to suit your needs. You may benefit from sticking 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. 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 parent and baby. Since you're carrying an extra 20 to 30 pounds and have 40% more blood pumping through your body toward the end of pregnancy, you are also 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 on your bike 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. 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 at a safe intensity, consider wearing 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 guidelines from ACOG 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 workout 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, so pay attention to your body's signals and take care of it accordingly.

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.

Riding a Stationary Bike While Pregnant

If you're interested in cycling classes but have not taken them before, you might prefer to start on your own on a stationary bike to build endurance before trying a group class. Compared to other cardio machines at the gym, the stationary bike provides a personalized low-impact workout. You get to control the intensity and the duration of your ride.

In some cases, a recumbent bike might be more comfortable, especially later in pregnancy, since it provides back support. Just keep in mind that you don't want to lean back too far.

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, you should be able to maintain a conversation while you're working out. The best type of exercise is the one you enjoy and will stick with throughout your pregnancy.

3 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.

  3. Physical activity and exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period: ACOG Committee Opinion, Number 804Obstet Gynecol. 2020;135(4):e178-e188. doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000003772

By Stacey Colino, AFAA-GFI
Stacey Colino is a certified spinning instructor and group exercise instructor through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA).