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Aerobic Pedal

Stretching, Strengthening and Aerobic Exercises During Pregnancy

Stretching Exercises

Stretching will help you loosen tight muscles. Do these exercises slowly and smoothly. Stretching exercises will make you feel good any time during the day. It is also helpful to do them before strengthening exercises.

Hamstring and Lower Back Stretch

This exercise keeps your lower back flexible.

1. Lie on your side with your knees bent. Gently pull the top knee up and out toward the shoulder.

2. Hold for 30 seconds. Then lower your leg. Repeat 5 to 10 times on each side.

Calf Stretch

This will stretch the muscles in the back of the lower leg.

1. Stand an arm's length away from a wall. Place the palms of your hands on the wall. Step forward about 12 inches with your right foot. Keep right knee slightly bent.

2. Lean toward the wall, bending elbows. Keep toes pointed forward and both heels on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds. Relax.

3. Repeat with other leg.

The Right Way to Stretch

Learning how to stretch will prevent injuries to loose joints. Here are some tips:

  • Always stretch slowly.
  • Stretch to the point where you feel mild tension.
  • Hold for 30 to 40 seconds. Don't bounce.
  • Relax.

Tailor Sit


This exercise makes your thighs and pelvis more flexible.

1. Sit on the floor with soles of feet together. Your back should be straight.

2. Gently lean forward until you feel a mild stretch. Your back should remain straight. Do not push down on your legs with your hands.

3. Hold and slowly count to 10. Relax. Repeat 3 or more times.

Neck and Shoulder Rolls

This exercise will reduce tension in your upper back. You can do this while you are standing or sitting.

1. Wrap your arms around your shoulders and hug yourself.

2. Gently lower your chin to your chest and drop shoulders. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.

3. Bring head up, then gently press ear toward shoulder. Roll head forward and around to other ear. Then roll forward to opposite ear. Roll head from side to side 5 to 10 times.

Trunk Turns

This exercise will increase the flexibility in your trunk (the area from your shoulders to your hips).

1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Raise your arms out to your sides at shoulder level; keep knees and elbows slightly bent.

2. Slowly swing your arms from side to side. While you swing your arms, move your head, shoulders, and hips in the same direction. Keep knees and feet in place.

3. Gently swing from side to side 10 times.

Strengthening Exercises

Muscles in your lower back, lower abdomen, and around the vagina come under great strain during pregnancy. When you strengthen these muscles early in your pregnancy, you can help reduce back pain and other problems later on.

Pelvic Tilt

This exercise will stretch muscles in the buttocks and lower back. It will also help to relieve back pain.

1. Get on hands and knees with your back straight.

2. Breathe out. Try to pull stomach muscles toward your spine. Tuck in buttocks. Your back will arch.

3. Hold and count to 5.

4. Breathe in and relax. Repeat 10 times.

Standing Pelvic Tilt

You can also do a pelvic tilt standing up. Try this exercise any time during the day to help relieve back pain.

1. Stand against a wall. Pull in your abdomen.

2. Pull your pelvis under you. Do this until your lower back flattens against the wall.

3. Hold and count to 5. Repeat 3 to 5 times.


This exercise strengthens the upper thighs. It also stretches muscles in the pelvic floor. Strong pelvic muscles are useful when you deliver your baby.

1. Hold on to a firm support, such as the back of a chair or couch, or an exercise bar.

2. With your feet a little wider than your shoulders, squat down as if you were sitting in a chair. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Try to keep your knees aligned with your ankles and your toes pointed forward.

3. Hold for 5 seconds. Stand up straight. Repeat 5 times.


Kegel exercises strengthen pelvic muscles. You can do Kegels anywhere. Doing these exercises each day helps prepare the pelvic muscles for delivery. Kegels also help strengthen muscles that hold the bladder. To do a Kegel: Tighten your muscles as if you were trying to stop your urine stream (but do it when you're not urinating). Try not to tighten buttocks, inner thighs, or stomach muscles. Hold for 3 seconds. Repeat 10 times during the day. Work up to tightening your pelvic muscles for 10 seconds, 10 times a day.

Arm Exercises

You can do these exercises sitting or standing. Begin these arm exercises without weights. As you become stronger use a 1-pound weight. Work up slowly until you feel comfortable with a 4- or 5-pound weight.

1. To exercise muscles under your upper arm (triceps): Hold arm out to side with your palm facing back. Keeping arm straight, bend elbow until knuckles point down. Bend elbow 10 times and relax.

2. To exercise muscles on top of your upper arm (deltoids): Hold arm straight out from side of body with your palm down. Keeping arm tight, bend elbow until the weight touches your chest. Bend elbow 10 times and relax.

3. To exercise muscles on the inside of your upper arm (biceps): Hold arm down with your palm forward. Keeping arm tight, curl arm up so the weight touches your shoulder. Curl arm up 10 times and relax.

4. Switch sides. You may also exercise both arms at the same time.

Side Leg Raise

This exercise will help relieve leg cramps and strengthen your outer thigh muscles.

1. Lie on your side.

2. Start with your bottom leg slightly bent and your top leg straight. Slowly lift your top leg, flexing foot.

3. As you raise your top leg, stretch it as if you were trying to point with your heel. Bend your knee slightly and point with your heel again. Continue in this way, raising your leg a little higher with each stretch until it is even with your hip.

4. Repeat 3 to 10 times, then switch sides.

Practicing in Water

Exercising in water can be very comfortable because the water supports your body. To perform a side leg raise in water:

  • Stand holding the side of the pool.
  • Stand on one leg (slightly bent).
  • Extend opposite leg out from side, with foot flexed.
  • Slowly push heel of foot into water, first low at floor of pool, then higher.

Keep Your Foot Flexed

Pregnant women tend to have painful leg cramps. By keeping your foot flexed when you exercise, you can stretch and lengthen calf muscles. This helps keep calf muscles from tightening into a painful cramp. To flex your foot, imagine pointing with your heel. If leg cramps continue, tell your doctor.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is one of the best kinds of activities you can do when you're pregnant. It will give you more energy, improve your circulation, and reduce constipation, bloating, and swelling. You'll also sleep better and feel better, too.

Choosing an Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is activity that increases your heart rate and keeps it at a higher level for 10 to 15 minutes. Try to include aerobic exercise in your routine at least 3 times a week. You might choose walking, using a treadmill, pedaling a stationary bicycle, swimming, or doing low-impact aerobics. Enjoy your aerobic exercise, but don't overdo it.

The Talk-Sing Test

To get the benefits of aerobic exercise, your heart rate must increase. Do the talk-sing test to find out if your heart rate is too high or too low. While exercising, notice when you start to sweat lightly and breathe harder. Try to talk. If you can't say a sentence without gasping for breath, you're working too hard. Slow down a bit and take it easy. If you can sing while you're exercising, you need to speed up, pedal faster, or work a little harder.

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Aerobic Pedal
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