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Prenatal exercise is vital to a pregnant woman's health and fitness, but at the same time, many expectant mothers are told to take it easy, and avoid any sport or activity that can vaguely be perceived as dangerous. What's the deal with bicycling and pregnancy?

For millions of Dutch people, it's a regular mode of transportation that serves them all year round, through rain, snow and... pregnancy too. The Dutch see cycling more as a way to get somewhere than as exercising, but cycling can actually burn 400 to 500 calories in an hour.

By riding your bike, you get a wonderful cardio workout and exercise the quadriceps, hamstring, and calf muscles too. When you have the right bicycle, your back and posture also benefit.So, is cycling during pregnancy safe? Alarmists, obviously, point to the risk of falling. Of course, it is possible to fall off your bike during pregnancy or when you are not pregnant, and it is also possible to sustain serious injuries. Driving a car, wearing high heels, walking down stairs, or treading on a wet bathroom floor are other potential threats.

There is no evidence to suggest that riding a bike is particularly risky, unless you are riding on rough terrain or competing in a race. Cycling may become a bit awkward in the third trimester, when it may be difficult to get on your bike, and to remain comfortable. A gel saddle will help some.

As with any other form of exercise, pregnant women should take special care to listen to their body. Ignoring the warning signs for exercising during pregnancy is a bad idea. Also make sure that you drink plenty of water, particularly if you decide to ride your bike out in the sun. And, stick to flat landscapes as much as you can.

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