Good news for pregnant women looking for an effective, low-impact cardio option: Indoor cycling while pregnant is considered safe for most women. Many women can even continue cycling into their third trimester.
“Indoor cycling is a great workout for a lot of women further along in pregnancy who have discomfort with weight-bearing exercises since riding on a cycling bike takes the weight off the body,” says Catherine Cram, M.S., exercise physiologist, and owner of Prenatal and Postpartum Fitness Consulting.
Stay safe on the bike.
Cram says biking outdoors usually isn’t considered safe during pregnancy because of the potential for an injury from a fall. “The risks of cycling outdoors on the road are too high,” she explains. “There are exhaust and fumes, and being out somewhere by yourself can be daunting while pregnant. Plus, there’s the possibility of inclement weather.”
When you ride a cycling bike at the gym or at home, you’re not likely to fall since you’re not relying on balance to keep the bike upright. (Remember: Your center of gravity changes throughout pregnancy, so your balance might be off.) If you’re going to to try indoor cycling while pregnant, there are a few things you should do to stay safe:
Get your doctor’s approval
Talking to your doctor before trying any workout during pregnancy. For most women, exercise is safe and will benefit both mom and baby, but there are some pregnancy conditions and complications that may cause a doctor to restrict a pregnant woman’s activity.
Work with an instructor.
Consider taking an indoor cycling class where an instructor can help you get comfortable on the bike before you try it alone with Aaptiv. Any instructor should be aware that you’re expecting, so they can keep an eye on you, and know not to push you to the point of overexertion.
“A pregnant woman should be going at a higher level of revolutions per minute instead of pushing really hard gears,” says Cram. “Work with someone to know that you’re not overdoing it. Cranking really hard gears is really hard on the joints.”
Stay cool and hydrated.
Overheating is dangerous to the fetus during the first trimester and can cause dehydration throughout pregnancy. Dehydration can lead to premature labor—that’s certainly not something you want to risk.
When indoor cycling while pregnant, “it’s important to wear clothing that wicks moisture and feels comfortable,” urges Cram. “She should be in an environment that’s climate-controlled, where she has a fan or air conditioning to keep cool.”
And of course, drink lots of water before, during and after your workout.
Adjust your bike.
A common mistake people make when indoor cycling is not properly adjusting their bike. “Learn how to change the seat position for your body,” says Cram. “Some people sit too far forward, and all their weight is on the pelvis and that’s really uncomfortable.” Ideally, weight should be evenly distributed between the hands and the body; you shouldn’t find yourself tipped uncomfortably forward or backward while riding.
Also, consider adding extra padding. Some women get varicose veins in their vulva while pregnant and may want to wear padded bike shorts to soften the pressure in that area while sitting on a cycling bike.
Listen to your body.
When indoor cycling while pregnant, do self-checks. You don’t want to feel overheated, out of breath or lightheaded. Stay within the normal level of exertion for your fitness level. If you’re feeling signs of dehydration or exhaustion, back off on the intensity.
As your pregnancy progresses you’ll obviously get heavier, and you may also find it tougher to take deep breaths. You may find that you have to modify your exercise routine. You may need to dial down your intensity level when indoor cycling while pregnant, or divide your usual 40-minute workout into two 20-minute workouts.
If indoor cycling while pregnant is getting uncomfortable or too taxing, switch to walking, yoga, or something else that feels good. The important thing is that you stick with it! Exercise offers the most benefits to you and baby if you continue it through the end of the third trimester.