Cycling for pregnancy harmful for the baby? Answer might surprise you.

How to Cyle for a Healthy Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be difficult, especially when one wants to maintain good health and shape. Exercising during pregnancy can help women cope with nausea and offer a healthy way to keep themselves fit and engaged. Knowing what to do and what to avoid will help prevent unnecessary harm to you and your baby.

Cycling is a great way to engage in such healthy habits as they are less tiring and safer compared to other forms of sports/exercises. 

So, is cycling for pregnancy safe?

Yes! It’s an aerobic exercise and is completely safe for you and your baby in the early stage of pregnancy. 

Cycling is among a few exercises, like walking, yoga, swimming, and pilates, that are considered safe to indulge in during pregnancy according to Lawerance Medical Health Organisation. They are safe to such an extent that you can do these in your first trimester (in most cases) without the consultation of a doctor.

During the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, it is advised to consult your doctor and only then continue with your exercises. A study measured the effect of cycling on the displacement of hip and trunk joints in pregnant women. They found that in the first trimester it was safe, and there were minor changes in the readings, but as soon as 2nd trimester started, the displacement also started increasing. The reason behind this increment was due to the hormones that are released that make joints flexible. Continuing cycling in the last two trimesters can be tricky and may mess with body posture. Therefore, it becomes a necessity to consult your doctor or maternity team in your final two trimesters.

What are the benefits of cycling during pregnancy?

Woman in blue coat riding a bike
A ride of 30 minutes a day is enough during your pregnancy.

When done in moderation and with necessary precautions cycling can yield awesome benefits.

  • Strengthen the legs, hips, and back muscles, which help in supporting the weight of the baby in the later trimesters.
  • Help to cope with nausea and is considered less tiring than walking.
  • Cycling for not more than 30 minutes can help improve flexibility, posture, and endurance that reduce complications during childbirth.
  • Reduces excessive weight gain, gestational diabetes, and postpartum weight retention, especially in overweight or obese women.
  • Improves psychological well-being and even counters depression and anxiety.

These benefits are only visible if done with proper care. Excessive cycling (more than 45 minutes) can lead to low blood sugar, which is not good. Adverse effects on the HDL cholesterol, diastolic blood pressure, and BMI can be seen in the offspring when done in excess, according to a report.

When to avoid cycling for pregnancy?

According to the American College of Gynecology (ACOG), if you feel/have any of the following illnesses/symptoms during or before your cycling endeavor, then it will be better to contact your maternal team or doctor for further guidance.

  • Heart or lung disease
  • Cerclage – A condition where the cervix has been stitched shut to prevent or delay preterm birth
  • Pregnant with multiple babies with a concern for pre-term labor.
  • Placenta previa after 26 weeks – A scenario where the uterus opening is covered by the placenta.
  • Pre-term labor or water has broken
  • Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure (Preeclampsia)
  • Severe anemia
  • Experiencing pregnancy pains
  • Swelling in your legs and feet
  • Pain in your back, hips, or pelvis
  • Issues like urinary leakage and constipation
  • persistent bleeding in the second or third trimester
  •  shortness of breath at rest, dizziness, or headache

How to build a perfect cycling exercise plan?

While planning for your exercise, your comfort is the top most priority. Several aspects like intensity, frequency, and duration need adjustment throughout your pregnancy for a delightful workout.

  • Intensity is how easy or strenuous is your exercise. Riding a bike on a 1st gear or riding a bike on flat terrain can be termed as easy, whereas dialing up the gear or riding up a slope can be a bit hard. A great way to uncover if the exercise is comfortable is to talk while cycling and observe your breathing pattern. If you can speak without any issue or frequent pause, then you are good to go else you need to slow down.
  • Frequency is the number of times in a day you are indulging in your cycling trips. During your first trimester, you can cycle almost every day. But as your belly grows and you gain weight, you should keep in touch with your doctor and modify your frequency as needed. You can even opt to cycle indoors for a smoother and more comfortable experience.
  • Your duration should not exceed 30 minutes. It is an optimal duration that is perfect during your pregnancy. Cycling more than this can lead to complications, especially if you are someone who didn’t use to workout before pregnancy.

Your body will go through several changes from the first to the third trimester, and your plan should change to account for that.

an array of recumbent cycle in a gym
Switching to indoor cycling specially in your 2nd and 3rd trimester can be very beneficial.
  1. 1st Trimester: Invest in a pair of sports bras for your first trimester. Two will be enough as you will quickly outgrow them. The first trimester is the period where you don’t have a lot of weight and can easily carry on with your bike journey. If for whatever reason, you feel dizziness or vomiting, you should skip that day and proceed to take a rest.
  2. 2nd Trimester: During your second trimester, try playing around with your intensity and duration. It is an appropriate time to consider cycling indoors in a well-ventilated room. Indoor cycling keeps you in a safe space from no bumps, summer heat, or humidity. By this time you might have outgrown your sports bra, and it will be better to consider a new set. Keep account of your health and take necessary measures as we have discussed throughout our article.
  3. 3rd Trimester: The third trimester is cumbersome and often causes fatigue in women. Try your best to keep yourself active but don’t push too hard. Adjust your plan if you are getting short on breath. Invest in a new sports bra and a recumbent bike as they will make you more comfortable.

Few tips that make bicycling comfortable during pregnancy.

  • Avoid outdoor cycling in hot and humid weather, instead, get yourself a stationary bike or a recumbent bike for an indoor workout.
  • A wide seat, a low step-through frame, and an upright positioning may increase pregnant women’s comfort on the bicycle.
  • Warm up before cycling and cool down afterward.
  • Keep yourself hydrated with water and other fluids.
  • Keep track of your daily heart rate (stop if there is a sudden spike and rest for that day) and hydration level (urine color should be light yellow or transparent).
  • Maintain a proper diet, as apart from maintaining your weight and the health of your baby, a good chunk will be utilized during your bike exercise.
  • Involve your doctor or maternity team in your exercise plan and decisions.
Tips for Cycling Exercise for Pregnant Woman

Best gadgets for cycling for pregnant women

Best low-frame bikes for pregnant women

sixthreezero EVRYjourney Women Hybrid Bike
  • sixthreezero EVRYjourney Women Hybrid Bike: The bike comes with a step-through frame and has over 388 global reviews on Amazon with the majority being on the positive side. It takes one hour to assemble with the guide effortlessly available on sixthreezero’s website.
Schwinn Adult Folding Bike
  • Schwinn Adult Folding Bike: The bike has an extremely low step-through frame that is great for pregnant women. It also has a folding mechanism that makes the bike convenient to store and move around. It has over 343 global reviews. The seat is rigid and needs to be swapped for comfortable bum support.

Best indoor recumbent bike for pregnant women

Mary Recumbent Exercise Bike
  • Mary Recumbent Exercise Bike: A budget recumbent bike with a low step-through frame. It has a wide seat with tension control to increase the intensity. The bike is sturdy and can handle over 400lbs (180kg) of weight. With an overwhelming 19000 global reviews, we wholeheartedly recommend this bike for pregnant women.
HARISON Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike
  • HARISON Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike: It has wider bum & back support along with a holder for the tablet. There is a heart-rate monitoring rail to the side of the seat. A bit on the expensive side, it has over 450 global reviews on Amazon. With polite customer service, they won’t keep you hanging. The bike can support 350lbs (158kg) of weight.

Best Bike Seat for pregnant women

Cloud9 Crusier Select SaddleCloud9 Crusier Select Saddle
  • Cloud9 Crusier Select Saddle: Highly recommended by women due to its soft and wide support area (10.5″x10.75″). Easy to bolt on a bicycle but cumbersome to be replaced on an indoor bike like a peloton.

Final Verdict

Being pregnant is exhilarating, and what’s better than being able to enjoy some sports in such a time. Keeping track of your health from time to time and involving your doctor in your exercise plan is the best way to guarantee a healthy offspring. A great book that we will recommend is “Fit Pregnancies for Dummies” by Catherine Cram and Tere Stouffer Drenth. Enjoy the sporty pregnancy journey and keep yourself hydrated.


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