How to Keep Cycling Safely and Comfortably during Pregnancy

bike, bicycle, cycling, cycling during pregnancy, cycling and pregnancy, pregnancy, fit and healthy pregnancyPregnant? 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, Hadownhill, fast hill descent, descent, cycling, mountain biking, cycling during pregnancy, fit and healthy pregnancyskins 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.

saddle, bike saddle, cycling, cycling and pregnancy, fit and healthy pregnancy 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 and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFit & 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!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

You Dont Have to be Alysia Montano to Keep a Fit Mind & Body in Your 3rd Trimester

You know the stories about those women who ran marathons on their due dates? Kind of like Alysia Montano, the Olympian who was 8 months pregnant and ran the 800M last month. While it is an impressive feat and was probably safe for those athletes whose bodies were used to this kind of activity, know that that doesn’t have to be you.

Don’t Make Comparisons

path, journey, pregnancy journey, fit and healthy pregnancyStaying in touch with your Fit Self can be a challenge during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester when you feel large and unwieldy. It may feel as if you’re waddling through each day. But it’s important not to compare yourself to anyone else. Alysia Montano had her own pregnancy story. Her goal was to just go out there and enjoy the race and hopefully not get lapped.

But that’s not your story. Your pregnancy journey is your own and changes each day. Do what makes you feel whole and don’t worry about anyone else. Reject the idea that you have to be fit with someone else’s mind and body.

Keeping a Fit Mind

To keep your sanity, strive for balance between obligations, such as work, and aspects of life that help you feel good, such as time outside. Focus on the things that you can control, such as the ways you can nourish your mind and body, and let go of the things you can’t, such as other people’s reactions to your fitness activities or how you look.

baking, dough, sanityTurn to those activities that you love like baking or wandering around farmers market in those last months when your stress is overwhelming and you need some you time. Simple things like these will be positive diversions from the physical discomfort you’re feeling and the baby-centric conversations. They’ll also help nourish your independent identity.

Third Trimester Exercise

And if you have been exercising regularly during your pregnancy and continue to feel up for it during your third trimester, that’s completely safe as long as you’re listening to your body and fueling yourself properly. Another great benefit of fitness is stress release, which many women could use the closer delivery gets.

Whether you’re like Alysia Montano or not and want to continue running during your third trimester, here are some guidelines for you:

  • As long as you’re comfortable, hydrated, and careful not to overexert, you can feel confident going for a run.
  • Stay comfortable and wear a loose, moisture-wicking shirt to reduce chafing.
  • Carry a water bottle with you to prevent overheating and dehydration.
  • Electrolyte drinks and coconut water are great hydration go-tos.
  • Don’t start running in your seventh month if you haven’t been running during the pregnancy thus far.
  • Focus on your rate of exertion, comfort, and sense of wellness during a run rather than a specific time or number of miles.

pregnancy, third trimester, pregnant woman, healthy pregnancy, fit pregnancy, fit and healthy pregnancyIf you’re reading this in your third trimester, this is the home stretch. Whether you’ve loved pregnancy or hated it, take comfort in the fact that you’re nearly there. For those of you in the beginning stages of your pregnancy, you might find some of our earlier posts helpful like How To Start Exercising During Pregnancy or Fueling Your First Trimester.

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFit & 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!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

Warning Signs You Should Stop Exercising During Pregnancy

woman running, happy woman, well-balanced lifeYour fitness practice will be most healthy for mind and body when you can see it as your individual plan without holding it up against an ideal. Try not to compare your own activity with what your best friend did when she was pregnant.

Your body will tell you how it feels; attend to those cues. Strive for balance when it comes to the reproductive process and your exercise routine, and be willing to adapt to factors in your lifestyle such as stress, work, and family dynamics. If you can avoid being rigid with your fitness program, your pregnancy and your workouts will do you much more good in body and mind.

Exercise, even vigorous exercise, is healthy for a growing fetus, provided your body is accustomed to that level of exertion. Monitor your level of effort because overexerting yourself in a workout can be problematic. If you experience bleeding, hyperventilation, blinding headache, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness, stop immediately and contact your health care provider.

warning sign, warning, dangerThere are a few conditions that point to drastically reducing or eliminating exercise, and these are nonnegotiable. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop exercising and talk to your doctor:

  • Relentless vomiting
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Severe illness (e.g., flu)
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Injuries

Other circumstances that could influence your workout efforts should be discussed with your provider at your initial visit. These conditions include:

  • Anemia
  • Arrhythmia
  • Bronchitis or asthma
  • Diabetes that isn’t well controlled
  • Morbid obesity
  • Severely low weight or BMI
  • Intrauterine growth restriction in this pregnancy
  • High blood pressure
  • Orthopedic problems or sports injuries
  • Epilepsy
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Smoking
  • Any other medical condition that makes you unsure whether exercise is okay

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFit & 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!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

How to Start Exercising During Pregnancy

spin class, spinning, exercise, fitness, womenAs a general guideline for beginning a new fitness practice, you want to keep your exertion below your maximum heart rate. Strive to top out your workout exertion at 60 to 70 percent of your nonpregnant max as well as consulting Borg’s scale of Rate of Perceived Exertion. Keep your exercise plan light to moderate at first, measured by time, not distance. Gradually build your base of cardio exercise, such as walking, spinning, swimming, and prenatal aerobics, as well as light core and weight training to build muscle strength. A great starting point if you are totally new to regular exercise entails a few weeks of the following program before adding 5 minutes per session every three days or adding another workout day to the routine:

  • 20 minutes of cardio at a conversational level, 3 to 4 days per week
  • Low-weight strength training 1 to 2 days per week
  • Flexibility exercises 2 to 3 days per week

light weights, weight-lifting, exercise, fitnessPower walking, an elliptical machine, and an upright stationary bike are wonderful ways to begin a fitness program, and on this site, we’ll introduce some exercises that are ideal for starting a strength and flexibility routine. Not only should you ease into a program but you also need to consider various factors that can play a role in how your body adjusts to exercise. You’re striving for balance, not overexerting yourself in any one area of your life. Give as much attention to sleep time as to work time, and make sure you achieve balance in nutrition and hydration as well. Take a look at this article Can I Exercise During Pregnancy Even If I’ve Never Worked Out?

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD

 

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!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

Can I Exercise During Pregnancy Even If I’ve Never Worked Out?

women on treadmills, women exercising, treadmills, exerciseIf you’re new to fitness activities, congratulations on making the move to build fitness into your daily routine as you head into this 40-week fun house, where the mirrors sometimes seem distorted and it can be hard to find your bearings with fitness.

When it comes to advice for those new to fitness, the Department of Health and Human Services offers a great maxim: “Start Low and Go Slow.”

Anyone who is training—whether new to exercise or a competitive veteran—must balance activity with recovery periods. It’s tempting to overdo a workout when you’ve made a new commitment to fitness, but more is not always better, and it’s key to realize that your body actually strengthens from rest between workouts.

Here are some guidelines for getting started:

  • Build your program from a conservative base, such as walking on a flat treadmill before increasing the incline or walking hills.
  • Your program should be based on your BMI (see earlier in this chapter) and individual fitness history. Talk to your doctor and consider working with a trainer who will personalize your workouts and keep you motivatedand accountable.
  • Read Fit & Healthy Pregnancy to educate yourself on prenatal fitness so you can perceive your body’s cues regarding when to stop and when to persist witha workout.
  • Diversify your workouts to include cardio sessions, flexibility, and strength training. The variety will keep you motivated and build whole-body fitness.

water bottles, water, hydration

  • Trade sodas and juices for water (flavored water and coconut water are good alternatives), and c
    arry a water bottle with you throughout the day.
  • Seek medical attention if you develop warning signs of dehydration (headache, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, cramping).

Check back for another article on How to Start Exercising During Pregnancy

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFit & 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!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.

Is Exercise Good for Babies?

Research shows that exercise, and even vigorous training, are safe for you throughout pregnancy. So go ahead, exhale.

Not only is a fitness practice safe, but also it will improve your health during and after pregnancy. Even better, research shows that your fitness routine or training is both safe and healthy for your growing baby. Here’s your next one-liner comeback for the doubters: “Fit mama, fit baby.” Let those words help guide your 40 weeks, not to mention the postpartum family life you’re going to build.

baby, boy, curious,

The research on the effects of exercise on fetal development has kept pace with studies of the impact of exercise on women’s bodies during pregnancy, and results show that your activity brings benefit to the baby in utero. Babies of women who were active during pregnancy tend to be leaner at birth and exhibit somewhat better neurobehavioral maturation. These babies also have lower rates of long-term weight issues at age 5 as well as slightly higher brain function during childhood.

From early pregnancy through the third trimester, a fetus can tolerate your exercise very well because a woman’s body adapts to pregnancy in a way that regulates the impact of her activity on the growing baby. For instance, your body has an improved ability to regulate your core body temperature by cooling itself through sweat and heat dispensation from your skin. Similarly, fetal heart rate can increase when you exercise, but it returns to normal after you finish working out. This and other fetal responses to your activity are temporary and have no permanent effects on the baby’s development. Regular and sustained workouts can increase the placenta’s volume in early and mid-pregnancy but have no adverse effects on any pregnancy outcomes.

Fetus, sonogram, baby, pregnancy, pregnant, ultrasound

What about intensity? Well, maintaining a fantastically sweaty and vigorous level of exercise does not carry any negative health consequences for your growing baby, either, as long as that level of exercise is familiar to you and your body. There are no significant differences in the fetal heart rate (FHR), Doppler health, birth weight, and Apgar scores among babies of vigorous versus moderate exercisers.

The upshot is that training is good for your pregnancy health, and it actually benefits your baby as well. The base you’re building for a fit pregnancy is achieved by the concept of wellness: doing what feels good to the body for the sake of mom-baby health. It’s safe and healthy to train and work out, but scale it back if you experience any of the adverse symptoms listed earlier or if you feel depleted and stressed by it to the point that it fails to enhance your general wellness. As athletes, we feel empowered by our agency over our bodies in the world, and pregnancy is no time to lose that self-possession.

Fit and Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MDFit & 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!

Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.