Cycling During Pregnancy – Benefits, Risks and Safety Tips
Bicycling while pregnant is not unheard of. As more and more women are becoming aware of the benefits of exercising while pregnant, they are taking up different forms of exercises, such as walking, swimming or yoga, to stay fit and healthy during pregnancy. Cycling is another form of exercise, that can prove to be beneficial for women during pregnancy. However, it isn’t as straightforward as it seems and a few more precautions need to be taken when opting to do so.
Is Cycling Safe for Pregnant Women?
Yes, a pregnant woman may take up cycling during pregnancy, if there are no health complications and when given a go-ahead by her doctor. The very act of cycling does not pose any harm to a pregnant woman. There are many people who are scared of numerous complications that can occur, but if you ride a bicycle by following the necessary precautionary measures, there shouldn’t be a problem. Cycling as an activity is absolutely safe for pregnant women, as long as it isn’t strenuous.
Benefits of Cycling Exercise During Pregnancy
Listed below are some benefits of bicycling during pregnancy.
- For women who start cycling in the early phases of the pregnancy, their chances of developing gestational diabetes may reduce.
- Since cycling is an aerobic exercise, it helps rid the body of toxins, reduces stress, and boosts blood circulation as well as intake of oxygen, which supports the growth of the foetus, too.
- An increased baby bump might make it difficult to cycle, but it can help reduce the pains of pregnancy as well as combat nausea along with it.
Risks of Cycling During Pregnancy
As great an exercise as cycling might be, bringing about loads of benefits and inducing well-being in a pregnant mother, it is not free from risks and those need to be understood very well before starting off on your bike.
1. In First Trimester
Cycling during early pregnancy needs to be undertaken with a lot of caution. This is the time when the foetus is beginning to develop within the womb and making a home for itself. So it is important to reduce any kind of external disturbances to it. Cycling, in the first trimester of pregnancy, should be restricted to minimal and must be undertaken only if you feel like it. In case you feel nauseous or too tired, don’t force yourself to cycle. Stay away from bumpy roads, as jolts can impact the health of the foetus, disrupt your balance, and increase the chances of falling which may result in a miscarriage.
2. In Second Trimester
As you enter the second trimester, the foetus will have developed within the womb considerably. The chances of miscarriage reduce in the second trimester. At the same time, many women tend to regain their initial strength and feel rejuvenated. Opting for cycling around this time can prove to be beneficial. It helps keep your weight in check and relieve any aches or pains by giving your muscles and joints the exercise they need. But be vigil and don’t tire yourself out!
3. In Third Trimester
Around the third trimester, the belly starts becoming more prominent and your usual movements might get a tad restricted at times. This could pose problems in cycling since the bar tends to come in between or leave you gasping for breath if you cycle for long. Try using a cycle that has low bars and even a wide seat that helps you if you have haemorrhoids. Also, cycle on flat roads instead of going uphill.
Precautions To Be Taken While Cycling
No matter at what stage of pregnancy you are, as important as exercise is, it is also necessary to be aware of certain precautions that need to be undertaken if you are going to opt for cycling as your go-to exercise method.
- Wear a helmet when cycling and do not cycle for long. Avoid pushing yourself to cycle if you are not feeling like it. As you proceed ahead in pregnancy, your capacity to breathe and energy will take a hit. Don’t overdo it with your exercising for it could affect your baby’s health.
- Support your back throughout the exercise. The shift in weight due to the increased belly, combined with the posture required for cycling, could take a toll on your back. Choose bikes that can be cycled by sitting upright instead of bending down, and complement your cycling with yoga that takes care of the lower back.
- Being seated for long hours on a tiny seat might be uncomfortable for you. Change the seat with a wider option, or use the one that comes with a gel-base that supports your bottom and also prevents it from getting too sore.
- Maintain your balance. Your body will undergo various physical changes during pregnancy, and your natural centre of gravity will change too. So take it slow and keep yourself balanced when you cycle.
- Adjust your cycle’s settings as you proceed in pregnancy. Choose a bike that allows for handle height adjustment as well as seat adjustment possibilities, too.
- Take rest when you need it. It is good to adhere to a cycling plan, but if you feel tired or lethargic on some days, skip cycling on those days and take rest.
- Go cycling when the traffic is less and the roads are less congested. Choose a path that is levelled and free of potholes. Do wear bright coloured jackets so that others can spot you easily.
- Always follow your doctor’s advice. If your doctor suggests that you stop cycling for a few days, then take her advice and have some rest at home.
Cycling can prove to be beneficial for your health during pregnancy, but you should start cycling after checking with your doctor and taking the necessary precautionary measures.