Don't Stop Cycling Just Because You're Pregnant
Updated: Jan 28, 2022
Indoor cycling is one of the best exercises pregnant women can complete. It’s low-impact, provides an excellent calorie burn and is easy to do no matter what trimester you’re in. However, as with all exercises, it’s important to know what you should and should not be doing to ensure you’re staying safe while completing your exercise routine. Read on to learn about why cycling is an excellent option for working out while pregnant, how to stay safe while completing your routine and how cycling while pregnant can make your post-natal experience easier than ever.
Talk to Your Doctor
Before we go into the benefits of cycling while pregnant and make you want to hop on your bike, it’s important to note that undertaking any exercise routine while pregnant requires a discussion with your doctor. Some women may find they can’t exercise at the same intensity that they did before discovering they were pregnant and may need to start out slowly before building up their stamina. The following article is not medical advice. Instead, readers should take the following advice as helpful tips in completing their fitness journey while pregnant.
Why Low Impact Helps
Low-impact exercise isn’t just for the injured or older individuals; it’s also a wonderful tool to stay fit throughout the entire pregnancy. While those in the last few weeks of their pregnancy may choose to avoid exercise completely, cycling can be used as a method of exercise throughout an entire pregnancy.
Cycling allows the body to receive a full-body workout without any of the drawbacks associated with higher intensity workouts, which most OBGYNs will tell patients to avoid due to the strain that’s put on the body (and that of the baby’s). Furthermore, regular exercise can make a pregnancy a much smoother process by helping women gain as little weight as possible while also strengthening the muscles. For example, pregnant women must engage their core muscles to stay balanced on their bike throughout their pregnancy. These ab muscles greatly contribute to the labor process, allowing women to push much easier than they could if their ab muscles are weaker.
Finally, cycling and low impact exercise allow pregnant women to workout harder and longer. While this doesn’t mean women should aim for the most intense spinning workout of their lives (more on that in the next section), it does mean that they can break more of a sweat that’s more equitable to what they could be burning through running or jogging without putting as much strain on the body. Women who didn’t have a fitness program before becoming pregnant may find that cycling allows them to start a workout plan they actually enjoy, without ever needing to leave the house. Regardless of when someone decides to take up cycling as a fitness program in their pregnancy (with a doctor’s permission), it can quickly become their primary method to stay happy and healthy before giving birth.
Tips for Cycling While Pregnant
Want to get on that cycle ASAP? We don’t blame you. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when deciding to take up cycling as a part of your exercise routine while pregnant:
Cycling classes feature a lot of choreography, ranging from tap backs to jumps. While these exercises are plenty of fun to complete when not pregnant, they can be dangerous when carrying a baby for two primary reasons.
First, babies don’t like a lot of jumping and bouncing around in the womb. It can cause mothers to go into labor early or injure the baby. When the baby experiences too much movement, it may cause the unborn child (or children) undue stress as the body reacts to what’s happening around it.
Second, pregnant women’s centers of gravity change. They’re carrying a brand new baby bump, and their bodies don’t usually quite adjust to that. While something may seem fun or easy when pregnant, it is far too easy to overestimate how much one controls their balance while pregnant, only to find themselves on the floor.
Instead of practicing choreography, look to see if there’s a way to modify the workout. Some may find they can include more sprints during their workout while others may combine cycling with a pre-natal yoga program to stay healthy and fit. Remember that after the baby comes, you’re free to hop, skip and jump on a stationary bike, but for the next few months, it’s better to hold off.
Put Bikes in Position
Pregnant stationary bike users should modify their bike every single time they use it. Many are shocked to find that they blossom literally overnight, and what might have worked yesterday isn’t going to work well today.
Before using the bike, make sure the saddle (seat) is in a comfortable position, allowing the user to sit more upright. This reduces the amount of strain placed on the lower back while engaging the core muscles (remember, healthier, happier, easier labor).
With the saddle adjusted, it’s time to move those handlebars. Because the body needs to be positioned for a more upright form, the handlebars should be pushed towards the user (and possibly raised up) to bring them closer. This keeps them from slumping over on the bike and avoids putting unnecessary stress on the back.
Finally, make sure the body is always able to be evenly distributed on the bike when riding. While this can be slightly more difficult in later stages of a pregnancy, exercisers should ensure they are able to keep their balance throughout the workout. If for some reason the body feels off-kilter (sometimes babies like to hangout on one side), don’t worry about cycling right that moment; instead, wait to regain a sense of balance and try cycling then.
Everyone always says to drink plenty of water, but this is especially important while pregnant. Make sure to drink throughout the workout and wear cool clothes to avoid dehydration. With the extra weight and blood flow in the body, most women find they tend to sweat much more than they did before pregnancy, meaning they’re also losing water at an expedited rate. By staying hydrated throughout the workout, women are ensuring both their safety and that of their babies as dehydration can cause adverse health effects in both baby and mommy.
Know When to Take a Break (or Quit)
The great thing about pregnancy for most women is that it puts them in tune with their bodies; and this is when women need to make sure they’re paying attention to everything their body is attempting to tell them. Far too often, women will overexert themselves when working out while pregnant only to find they wake up incredibly sore the next day, injure themselves or go into early labor.
Some the signs to watch out for if exercising while pregnant include:
● Regular contractions
● Painful contractions
● Dizziness, shortness of breath and/or fainting
● Chest pain
● Nausea (if not a regular sufferer of morning sickness)
● New or unusual pains
● Leaking or bleeding from the vagina
● Swelling (pay particular attention to the calves)
● Muscle weakness
● Loss of balance
Cycling by Trimester
The first 12 weeks are critical, with most miscarriages occurring during this time. This is also when most women find out they’re pregnant. After discovering an expectant bundle of joy, women should look to cut down on their intensity, especially if advised to by their doctor. If feeling sick or fatigued, it’s best to avoid exercise until feeling better. As always, listen to the body. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
After the end of the first trimester, the risk of miscarriage drastically falls for most women. Most also see their nausea and fatigue begin to dissolve as well, with many women reporting they feel more energetic than they did in their first three months. Cycling during this trimester will keep pregnant women looking and feeling great, with the endorphin rush helping to ease general aches and pains they are experiencing as the baby grows. Unfortunately, some women take this energy as an excuse to do what they want. Remember, if any weird pains are felt to call the doctor and always keep the baby in mind when looking to workout more intensely.
This is when baby is REALLY growing, and the bump is starting to get big as baby is ready to come out. Most women will cut down on their workout intensity and frequency at this point; however, a bigger baby bump doesn’t mean exercise is completely off the table. Instead, opt to workout about 30 minutes a day at low intensity to ensure a healthy baby and mommy.
Want to hop on your stationary bike and start working out as soon as possible? Fitscope offers online studio classes for pre-natal cycling, strength training, HIIT workouts, ellipticals, rowing machines, air bikes and treadmills to allow pregnant to vary their workouts while obtaining maximum benefits. Click here to learn more and receive a free one-week trial.