Elliptical While Pregnant: Is It Safe To Use?

Elliptical machines offer an excellent aerobic workout that allows you to train at your own pace and intensity. This makes them suitable for anyone to use, including pregnant women.

If you’re wondering whether using an elliptical while pregnant is safe or not, this guide will tell you everything you need to know!

During pregnancy, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week.

Thanks to the fact that elliptical machines offer a low-impact workout, they're safe to use throughout your entire pregnancy. Additionally, elliptical machines place less strain on your joints and burn more calories than other cardio machines.

There are many benefits to using an elliptical machine during pregnancy. Studies show that not only does exercising increase your chance of successful vaginal delivery, but it decreases your chances of developing gestational diabetes and preeclampsia too.

Additionally, you're less likely to go into preterm labor, and your baby is less likely to have a low birth weight. Over and above that, exercise helps your postpartum recovery time and prevents postpartum depression. 

During the later stages of pregnancy, using an elliptical machine may be uncomfortable for women struggling with pelvic girdle pain (PGP). Women with PGP usually find even basic movements (like walking or sitting) painful, but it's important to stay active, even with PGP. Modify your speed and resistance while using the elliptical according to what feels more comfortable for you.  

pregnant woman

Special Precautions

Although elliptical machines offer a great low-impact workout during pregnancy, there are certain instances when exercise is not advised. If you have any pre-existing health conditions or pregnancy-related complications, you should speak to your doctor before starting a new workout routine. These include:

  • Spotting or bleeding 
  • An incompetent cervix 
  • Placenta praevia 
  • A history of preterm labor 
  • Threatened or recurrent miscarriage 
  • Preeclampsia 
  • Carrying multiples 

Tips For Different Stages Of Pregnancy

First Trimester Tips 
Experts advise that you can continue with the same amount of exercise during pregnancy that you were doing before you became pregnant. If you weren’t doing any exercise prior, then aim for 30-minutes, five days a week (or 150 hours total each week).

If you can't manage this at first, start with 3 times a week. During the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, it's important to avoid becoming overheated. Exercising in an air-conditioned room is the best way to prevent this. If you start to feel dizzy, experience chest pain, or have difficulty breathing - you should stop immediately.

Remember that the goal is to achieve only a moderate-intensity aerobic workout and not a high-intensity workout. Stick to a slow, steady pace and monitor your heart rate throughout to ensure you’re not over-exerting yourself. You should be able to hold a conversation during the entire duration of your workout. If you can’t, you should reduce your pace.

Second Trimester Tips 
Heading into your second trimester, many women tend to feel a boost in their energy levels. If you were using the elliptical machine during your first trimester, your body should be accustomed to your workout routine by now.

You can continue with the same routine as before, or increase the time to suit what’s comfortable for you. Be sure to keep your speed at under 100 RPM, as this will help you maintain a steady pace and an intensity level that is safe for you and your baby.

As with the first trimester, you should always be able to hold a conversation during the workout. If you’re feeling breathless, you should reduce your speed and/or intensity level.

Third Trimester Tips 
As your pregnancy progresses and your body changes, so should your exercise routine. You can continue to workout for 30 minutes 5 days per week, but reduce your speed down to no more than 80 RPM.

During your third trimester, you may experience pelvic girdle pain more often than before. Wearing a pelvic support belt while using the elliptical machine can help to stabilize your pelvis and reduce pain. 

As your belly grows, your center of gravity will shift, and your ligaments will become even more relaxed. Keep this in mind when using the elliptical machine and ensure that you are always holding onto the machine with your feet firmly on the pedals.

pregnant woman using elliptical machine

How To SAFELY Exercise On An Elliptical Machine While Pregnant

Before working out, always ensure that you have eaten and are adequately hydrated. To safely exercise on an elliptical machine while pregnant, keep both feet on the machine with your knees slightly bent.

Additionally, you’ll want to keep a firm hold of either the moving handrails or the stationary grips at all times. Finally, keep a slow and steady pace throughout the entire workout. If you begin to feel lightheaded or generally unwell - stop immediately.

After your workout, give yourself a few minutes to drink some water and take a few deep breaths before dismounting the machine. Although many elliptical machines have wheels and can be folded for storage, you should never attempt to lift or move an elliptical machine while pregnant.

Elliptical Workout Program For Pregnant Women 

Depending on your fitness level, aim to work out for 30 minutes 3-5 times per week. Start with a resistance level of 3 and keep a slow, steady pace through the entire workout. If you find yourself feeling breathless, slow down and find a pace that feels comfortable.

As your pregnancy progresses and your body is used to the intensity, you can increase the resistance level to 4. However, keep the elliptical machine below 100 RPM during the second trimester. When you reach your third trimester, reduce your pace even further to no more than 80 RPM. 

Exercising while pregnant offers many benefits for you and your baby. If you're ready for a low-impact elliptical workout, review our guide to the best affordable ellipticals!


What Pregnant Woman Should NOT Do When Using Ellipticals

  • Avoid Raising Your Body Temperature Above 100℉  
    Pregnancy in itself already elevates body temperature by around 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Increasing your body temperature further will divert blood to your extremities and restrict blood flow to your uterus. Therefore, you should monitor your temperature and avoid raising your body temperature above 100℉.
  • Avoid Over Exerting Yourself  
    In years gone by, experts would recommend a heart rate of no more than 140 BPM. These days, there are no specific heart rate limits during pregnancy. However, you should not exceed a heart rate where you feel short of breath and unable to hold a conversation.
  • Avoid Your Feet Leaving The Pedals (Especially At High Speeds)  
    Shifting your weight to one leg places you at risk of injuring your ankle, knee, and hip joints. Both feet should always be firmly on the pedals at all times. If your elliptical machine has foot straps, use them! Additionally, wear shoes that offer enough grip so that your feet won't slip. Check out our favorite running shoes to get a pair that suits you!
  • Avoid Exercising On High Inclines  
    Sciatic nerve pain is very common during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester. Exercising on a high incline should be avoided as it engages the hamstring and gluteal muscles even more. Consequently, this can aggravate your sciatic nerve pain.  
  • Avoid Letting Go Of The Handrails  
    With changes in your center of gravity during pregnancy, you’re more likely to lose your balance and fall. Holding on with both hands is ideal, but one hand should always be anchored to the elliptical machine at all times.
pregnant woman on elliptical

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Will my heart rate get too high on an elliptical while pregnant? 

No, an elliptical machine offers a low-impact aerobic workout that allows you to keep a steady heart rate. By adjusting the resistance level and your speed, you’re able to control your heart rate and keep it in a zone that feels comfortable.

How much cardio should I do while pregnant? 

At least 150 minutes per week. This can be broken down into 30-minute intervals, five days a week. If you're not used to exercising at all, start with three days a week and gradually work up to 5 days.

Should I do HIIT on the elliptical while pregnant? 

Only if you were doing HIIT on the elliptical before becoming pregnant. In this case, you can continue as you were for the duration of your first trimester. Thereafter, it’s not advised due to a change in your center of gravity and loose pelvic ligaments.

What is the best elliptical machine for a pregnant woman? 

The Body Champ 3-in-1 Trio is the best elliptical for pregnant women. Unlike most elliptical machines, the Body Champ features a seat and three sets of handlebars. The seat is useful for when you need to take a break and rest, while the handlebars on the seat offer an additional anchor point.


Conclusion

That wraps up our comprehensive guide to using an elliptical while pregnant. We hope that all of your questions and concerns were addressed. Now that you know it’s safe to use an elliptical while pregnant, stay active but be sure to follow the safety guidelines set out above. We wish you a happy and healthy pregnancy!

Paul J