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How Soon After Delivery Can I Use an Elliptical?

author image Lillian Downey
How Soon After Delivery Can I Use an Elliptical?
A woman is on an elliptical machine. Photo Credit: XiXinXing/XiXinXing/Getty Images

No two pregnancies or postpregnancy recoveries work the same. You may not feel up to exercising for weeks, while the woman from your prenatal yoga class hits the gym three days after delivery. Both scenarios constitute normal recoveries, according to Once you feel ready, the elliptical can help you get back into shape and provide the increased energy you need to tackle the challenges of new motherhood.

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Time Frame

If you had a high-risk pregnancy, cesarean delivery or postpregnancy complications, get clearance from your doctor at your six-week checkup before you start any type of exercise program. Women who experienced no pregnancy or delivery complications have the green light to begin exercising whenever they're ready, according to

Optimal Settings

The elliptical machine mimics stair claiming or a low-impact form of running, depending the machine's stride length. Longer, wider strides at a moderate resistance challenge your core muscles and move your body in a way that may feel uncomfortable in both your abdomen and your healing pelvic floor. Adjust your machine to a low-resistance setting and a stride length that feels more like small circles than wide or tall steps. Make one slow rotation to test how the movement feels before you begin exercising.


The American Pregnancy Association heralds both running and stair climbing as excellent ways to increase your heart rate. A 155-pound woman can burn more than 300 calories in just 30 minutes on the elliptical, according to Harvard Medical School. Even at a reduced pace, elliptical training can increase your heart rate enough to improve fitness, burn calories, improve mood, boost energy and deliver the dozens of other benefits of aerobic exercise.

Warning Signs

Pain is the big red flag that tells you to stop or slow down. Ease into each movement and listen to your body. If you feel dizzy, weak or start to overheat, stop exercising and talk to your doctor. Also talk to your doctor if exercise appears to cause or worsen bleeding or spotting. While increased exercise doesn't affect your ability to breastfeed or produce breast milk, dehydration does, so drink plenty of water.

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