So you have just bought an indoor trainer or enrolled in an indoor cycling class. After a few weeks, you found out that you are pregnant. Congratulations! What now?
Is it safe to do indoor cycling when pregnant? Experts recommend that pregnant women do moderate exercise, so long as they are healthy and have a normal pregnancy. Indoor cycling is considered one of the safest exercises pregnant women can do.
I can almost hear your sigh of relief knowing that you may not put your training on hold after all. However, there are some things that you should know if you want to keep you and your baby safe when indoor cycling.
Tell your doctor
It is still best to talk to your doctor if you are planning to start an exercise program. Your health care provider is also in the best position to determine whether you have a risky pregnancy or not.
Do not miss your prenatal appointments so that your doctor can monitor developments in your pregnancy and can advise you when you need to adjust your exercise program or stop it altogether.
What are the benefits of exercising when pregnant?
According to the American College of Obstetrician and Gynecology (ACOG), exercise during pregnancy can help reduce back pain, promote healthy weight gain, and strengthen heart and blood vessels.
It may also help you decrease your risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and cesarean delivery.
Another possible benefit of exercising is that it helps you lose weight post-delivery.
Also, exercise may also help you to build stamina which is necessary during labor and delivery, according to this article from WebMD.
How much and how often must I exercise?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity in a week for pregnant women.
Preferably, this should be spread across the entire week. For instance, 30 minutes a day, for five days in a week would be fine.
Take note that if you are about to start an exercise program when you are already pregnant, you do not have to hit the 150 per week recommendation right away. Instead, start with what you can do, and gradually increase the duration over time until you reach the target.
If you have been active even before getting pregnant, then it is generally safe to continue the activities you have been doing before. But I must reiterate consulting with your health care provider to discuss the adjustments that you may have to make during your pregnancy.
How to stay safe when indoor cycling?
As mentioned, indoor cycling is one of the safest exercises for pregnant women because it is a low-impact activity. And unlike biking outdoors, you don’t have to balance on the bike so there is no risk of falling.
That said, you have to take precautions during your indoor training. Here are things to keep in mind.
Keep yourself from overheating
This is important even when you are not pregnant. However, because of the physiological changes that happen when a woman is expecting, it is easier to feel hot even if you are not doing anything, more so if you are engaged in physical activity.
More importantly, overheating (102 degrees Fahrenheit or more) for more than ten minutes can be dangerous to the baby. Not to scare you but, overheating when you are in the first trimester of pregnancy may cause neural tube defects to the baby or a possible miscarriage.
To avoid overheating, wear quick-dry, moisture wicking clothes and ensure that you use a fan during your workout. Or do your exercise in a temperature-controlled room.
Drink plenty of water before, throughout, and after your workout session to prevent dehydration. Have a water bottle at arm’s reach.
If you think that you may be overheating while working out, stop immediately, drink plenty of water, and try to keep your self cool or move to a cooler place. Putting a wet towel on your skin may also help.
So long as you have removed yourself from the situation as soon as possible, you don’t have to worry. But if you are feeling nauseous, weakness and dizziness, severe headache and other symptoms, you might need medical attention.
If you are using an indoor cycling/spin stationery bike, raise the handlebars and adjust the saddle as necessary. As your baby bump becomes bigger, try to keep in a more upright position while pedaling.
Moderate intensity is the key
If you are used to going all out in your indoor biking sessions, you might want to reduce your intensity a bit. You don’t have to drastically reduce what you have been doing in the past, just make sure that you do not exercise to the point of exhaustion.
If you have just taken up indoor biking when you are already pregnant, it is better to slow things down in the beginning and gradually increase your intensity to a comfortable level.
A good rule of the thumb is that you must be able to hold a conversation while working out. If you find yourself panting or out of breath, bring the level down. Adjust the resistance of your trainer a notch or two lower and slow down your pace.
If you are in group class, let your instructor know that you are pregnant.
Say no to weights during indoor cycling
Doing weights while indoor cycling is not advisable and could be dangerous not only for pregnant women but for everyone in general.
But not everyone may not be aware of this especially that some cycling classes even promote it.
If you are enrolled in an indoor group cycling class that promotes this, opt out or find a better class.
Listen to your body
If any time during the workout, you feel uncomfortable or out of breath, slow down, pause, or end your exercise as necessary.
How do I know if I should stop exercising altogether?
Your doctor is in the best position to advise you. If you have a pre-existing condition such as asthma, heart disease, and diabetes, your doctor may advise you not to engage in exercise.
If do not have any medical condition such as those mentioned above, it is important to know the following warning signs.
Vaginal bleeding during the first trimester can signal a miscarriage. For the second or third trimester, this could indicate premature labor. This is an emergency situation so call your doctor or get to an Emergency Room immediately.
Decreased movement of the baby
Consult your doctor if you feel that your baby is not moving as much as before.
Fainting could indicate something more serious, so don’t shrug it off.
If you have experienced any of the above symptoms, consult your doctor. Don’t resume exercise unless you are cleared by the doctor.
You can safely start or continue indoor cycling training during your pregnancy as long as you are healthy and your pregnancy is not high-risk.
Always let your doctor know if you are going to start an exercise program or continue an existing one.
Indoor cycling when pregnant is generally safe. However, it is best to take precautions. Do not exercise to the point of exhaustion and always keep yourself cool and hydrated.
What other types of exercise can I do? Aside from indoor cycling, you can do brisk walking, swimming, and low impact aerobics. Jogging can be done in moderation if you have been doing this activity before pregnancy.
What exercises must I avoid? Avoid activities that have the risk of falling like horseback riding. During the later part of pregnancy, avoid exercises that require balance and coordination. Contact sports like basketball must be avoided. Likewise, hot yoga must be avoided as you run the risk of overheating.
How soon can I exercise after delivery? Generally, you can do low impact exercises one to two weeks after vaginal delivery. Wait a month or more if you had a cesarean birth. As during pregnancy, always take precautions when exercising. It is always best to ask your doctor if it is safe to continue your exercise program.