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Is Bicycle Exercise Safe During Pregnancy?

By Erin Carson ; Updated June 13, 2017

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests that pregnant women get 30 minutes of exercise on most, if not all, days. Finding low-impact ways to satisfy this recommendation can ease strain on your ankles and knee joints. Although biking can be a safe, low-impact form of exercise, pregnant women new to biking or cycling might want to choose a different form of exercise to minimize the risk of falls. Even experienced bikers need to take extra safety precautions when biking during pregnancy.

Balance and Biking

Although ACOG indicates that biking is generally safe during pregnancy -- even for beginners -- novice bikers might want to stick with stationary cycling to minimize their risks of falls. Even experienced bikers might want to give up biking or switch to a stationary bike in the second trimester, when their growing bellies can interfere with their balance and their ability to reach the handlebars. Since the bony structure of your pelvis no longer protects the baby after the 12th week of pregnancy, your baby could be injured or harmed if you fell from the bike.

Things to Consider

OB/GYN Alison Edelman, an avid cyclist, recommends discussing bike riding with your doctor so that she can help you make an informed decision about whether it is right for you. Some things to consider when deciding whether to ride during pregnancy include your experience with the sport, whether your pregnancy is high risk, the safety of your commute and the weather conditions in your area. If you decide to ride, give yourself permission to walk or take a car or bus on days when you physically don’t feel up to riding.

Safety Tips

Staying well-hydrated during your exercise session and paying careful attention to your body’s signals can help you stay safe. Avoid riding on rough, bumpy roads and trails. Do not ride your bike on wet, snowy or icy days. Adjust the handlebars and seat of your bike to accommodate your changing shape and your new sense of balance. Bike with a friend, or at the very least, bring a cell phone along so that you can call for help if problems arise.

Warning Signs

When biking, watch for signs that you might be overdoing it. If you are exhausted when you reach your destination, it may be time to ease back on your biking routine until after the baby arrives. Immediately get off the bike and call your doctor if you experience shortness of breath, dizziness or faintness, chest pain, muscle weakness, calf pain or swelling, contractions, fluid leaking from the vagina or vaginal bleeding.

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