Pregnant? Don’t throw your bike into that shed yet! Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you have to stop being active, and it doesn’t mean you have quit cycling either.
If you’re an active woman or even an athlete, there’s no reason you can’t keep your active lifestyle as long as you aren’t experiencing any complications and you’re listening to your body’s cues to know when to stop. However, if you haven’t been active prior to getting pregnant, now may not be the time to start a rigorous workout routine. (If you want more advice on starting a fitness routine during pregnancy, check one of our posts on the topic.)
A Safe Way to Cycle While Pregnant
So how do you safely and comfortably keep cycling during pregnancy? One way is to do what Olympian and triathlete Sarah Haskins did: she rode on a CompuTrainer.
Like many women, Haskins was nervous about cycling on the roads when she found out she was pregnant because she feared falling and harming her baby. This is a legitimate concern, and precautions should be taken to prevent falling and crashes like avoiding group rides, pacelines, fast hill descents, racing, gravelly and slippery roads, and busy intersections.
A Shift in Gravity
However, it is safe to ride your bike for the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy because your pelvis encases and protects the uterus during the first trimester. During your second trimester is when your balance and center of gravity begin to change, and your pelvis no longer protects your uterus. And when that third trimester rolls around, your balance will only have gotten worse, so that may be the time to switch to a stationary bike or an indoor bike that’s on a trainer, if you haven’t done so already.
Although there are no hard-and-fast obstetric rules that prohibit a woman from riding when she’s expecting as long as it’s a normal pregnancy without complications, you and your doctor will have to decide what’s right for you. And keep in mind that deciding not to ride on the roads doesn’t make you any less of an athlete.
Regardless of your choice though, you shouldn’t start an outdoor cycling routine after the first trimester because your balance is now comprised, and getting on (and staying on) a bike could be difficult if you haven’t been doing it regularly.
Monitor Your Efforts and Make Room for Comfort
If you continue cycling, remember to keep your efforts at 14-16 RPE after the first trimester, with recovery intervals at 10-12 RPE. And don’t forget to monitor your core body temperature when cycling or doing workouts of any during your pregnancy. You might even want to carry a basal thermometer with you to make sure your core body temperature is in the safe zone.
You’ll also want to adjust your bike fit to your changes in posture and weight distribution for a more comfortable ride. A wider saddle might also lend more comfort, and getting a hydration pack that you wear on your back will keep you from shifting your balance to reach for your water bottle.
The Upside of Staying Stationary
Spinning, Stationary bikes, CompuTrainers, and even recumbent bikes are safe alternatives for those looking for peace of mind and assurance that they won’t fall. You can even find a CompuTrainer center where you bring your own bike and a coach sets you up at a designated wattage for your individual level. Be sure to tell the coach that you’re pregnant!
A CompuTrainer center also lets you ride on a stable bike in a temperature-regulated space, with a skilled cycling expert to adjust your level of difficulty and bike fit. It’s a great option for athletes of all levels—novice to competitive—and lets you ride with stability while watching a simulated outdoor course.
Fit & Healthy Pregnancy is a friendly, comprehensive guide to exercising during pregnancy from athlete-moms Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD.
Find Fit and Healthy Pregnancy in your local bookstore or online and learn safe ways to exercise for two!
- Amazon – Fit & Healthy Pregnancy
- Barnes & Noble – Fit & Healthy Pregnancy
- VeloPress – Fit & Healthy Pregnancy
- Your local independent bookseller – Fit & Healthy Pregnancy
- Chapters/Indigo – Fit & Healthy Pregnancy
Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.