Is riding a bike safe while pregnant?
Getting pregnant changes many things, but if you enjoy cycling regularly with Vingo or outdoors, you might wonder if you’ll still be able to continue when you’re expecting.
In most cases, cycling is a safe, fun, and effective way to exercise when pregnant, especially if you’re riding a stationary bike indoors. Of course, we highly recommend talking to your doctor first to get their input. You may also need to adjust your regular routine to stay safe and comfortable when cycling while pregnant.
If you plan to hop on a bike with a growing baby bump, here’s what you should know.
Is riding a bike safe while pregnant?
In general, yes, it’s safe to ride a bike while you’re pregnant. As long as your doctor gives you the green light and you feel up to it, you can still enjoy all your favorite Vingo routes throughout your pregnancy.
Regardless, it’s important to consider the risks. The main concerns for cycling while pregnant include the following:
- Falling: You could accidentally fall and injure yourself and the baby while riding a bike. Although an accidental fall during the first trimester isn’t likely to result in miscarriage or fetal injuries, the risk increases during the third trimester.1 Unfortunately, this is also when accidental falls are most common because your belly is at its largest, and your center of gravity has shifted, affecting your balance. The hormones your body produces during pregnancy also relax the ligaments that support your joints, increasing your risk of exercise-related injuries.
- Exercise intensity: Overexerting yourself physically during pregnancy can lead to complications and should be avoided whenever possible.2 If you weren’t regularly cycling before you got pregnant, it might be best to wait until after the baby arrives to pick up the new habit. While pregnant, it’s better to stick to familiar types of exercise.
- Your knees hitting your bump: Cycling while pregnant might not always be feasible if your knees hit your bump every time you pump your pedals. It is uncomfortable, and you could injure yourself or the baby.
Despite these risks, cycling is an excellent, low-impact, and safe aerobic exercise that will help you feel your best while pregnant.
Once you’re well into your third trimester, you may choose to stop cycling until after the baby is born for comfort or safety reasons. It’s a decision you’ll need to make for yourself while also considering your doctor’s input.
Benefits of staying active during pregnancy
Wondering why it’s even worth the effort to keep cycling while pregnant? Research indicates there are plenty of amazing benefits, such as:3,4
- Promoting healthy weight gain
- Reducing your risk for gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, c-section, and perinatal depression
- Relieving back pain and constipation
- Improving your cardiovascular fitness and overall health
- Promoting healthy weight loss during the postpartum period
Necessary safety precautions for cycling while pregnant
If your doctor says it’s okay for you to cycle while pregnant, consider making some modifications to your usual routine or taking the following safety precautions:
Ride a stationary bike.
Biking indoors is much safer than cycling outdoors if you’re expecting. The risk of falling is virtually non-existent, and you don’t have to worry about unpredictable or rough terrain. It’s also easier to control the intensity of your workout while using a stationary bike.
If indoor cycling sounds boring to you, try Vingo! Our free cycling app makes indoor exercise exciting for people of all fitness levels. Explore beautiful virtual worlds like Iceland and Japan, ride virtually with friends, customize your avatar, and easily keep track of your progress over time.
Drink plenty of water.
It’s always important to stay hydrated, especially when you’re pregnant. Water helps form the amniotic fluid surrounding your baby in utero, aids digestion, and helps vital nutrients circulate in your body.
You should drink anywhere from 64 to 96 ounces of water daily when pregnant.5 But if you’re cycling regularly, you may need to drink more than that to replenish the liquid you lose through sweating.
Don’t overdo it.
Too much high-intensity cycling while pregnant could do more harm than good. Instead, focus on moderate-intensity workouts that get your heart pumping but don’t leave you absolutely drained and exhausted. In general, make sure you’re warming up, cooling down, and remember to pace yourself.
Avoid getting overheated.
Allowing your body to reach a temperature of 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit for too long while pregnant can lead to congenital disabilities or other problems during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. Overheating later in pregnancy can also lead to dehydration or heat stroke.5
To avoid getting too hot, wear loose-fitting clothes to cycle while pregnant. Don’t exercise outside when it’s sweltering and humid. Instead, ride a stationary bike indoors in a cool, air-conditioned room.
Wear a belly support band.
As your belly gets bigger later in your pregnancy, it might feel heavier and drop lower into your pelvis. When this happens, exercising may become more uncomfortable. You can wear a belly support band to get some relief and reduce any discomfort you feel while exercising.
If it feels uncomfortable, stop or switch to another low-impact aerobic activity.
Listen to your body! At a certain point, cycling while pregnant may not feel good anymore. If this happens, don’t be afraid to call it quits. Instead of biking, you can always take up an alternate low-impact activity. Experts recommend the following options for pregnant women:3
- Brisk walking
These are all excellent alternatives offering similar health benefits that can help keep you moving and active until your baby is born. However, in general, you can continue doing most forms of exercise while pregnant if you’re already accustomed to doing them regularly.
Key Takeaways:In most instances, cycling while pregnant is a safe way to get a healthy form of exercise. It’s always best to check with your doctor first and take certain safety precautions, like riding a stationary bike indoors instead of a traditional bicycle outside, drinking plenty of water, and wearing a belly support band. If biking gets uncomfortable toward the end of your pregnancy, you can always switch to an alternative form of exercise, like walking, swimming, or yoga.
- Murphy, N. J. (2014, November 15). Trauma in Pregnancy: Assessment, Management, and Prevention. AAFP. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2014/1115/p717.html
- Cooper, D. B. (2022, April 21). Pregnancy And Exercise. StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430821/
- Exercise During Pregnancy. (n.d.). ACOG. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/exercise-during-pregnancy
- Hinman, S. K., Smith, K. L., Quillen, D. A., & Smith, M. N. K. (2015). Exercise in Pregnancy. Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach, 7(6), 527–531. https://doi.org/10.1177/1941738115599358
- How much water should I drink during pregnancy? (n.d.). ACOG. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/experts-and-stories/ask-acog/how-much-water-should-i-drink-during-pregnancy