Is it safe to cycle during pregnancy?

The main risk of cycling while pregnant is causing injury to the baby by falling off or overheating. There was a suggestion, from a Danish study, that women who cycled more than 270 minutes a week during early pregnancy had an increased risk of severe pre-eclampsia, a rare but potentially serious condition.

A later review found that exercise might actually prevent pre-eclampsia, but did not say how much exercise. There is no doubt that exercise during pregnancy is generally good, helping to prevent anxiety, depression, insomnia and stress, as well as reducing the incidence of varicose veins, fatigue and swollen extremities. If you’re a confident cyclist, there should be no problem using your bike as a way of getting that exercise.

Increased laxity of the joints and an altered centre of gravity (brought on by the bump) can affect balance, so avoid unnecessary risks: downhill mountain-bike racing may not be the most sensible option. Pregnancy and exercise both increase the metabolic rate, making overheating more likely, which can lead to abnormalities in the baby if it occurs in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Cooler gear, keeping well hydrated and avoiding riding on hotter days are all sensible precautions.

Overall fitness will naturally decline as the pregnancy progresses, so set realistic goals and don’t be overambitious.