Getting exercise during pregnancy doesn’t have to be boring. Though you might think your only option is some light movement on the elliptical at the gym watching reruns of Dr. Phil is the only safe option, there are actually plenty of safe alternatives. Many of these alternatives are also much more exciting than wasting away at the gym, too. Depending on where you live, much of your pregnancy exercise can be done outside. If there are safe sidewalks or trails, walking is an excellent form of exercise. Or, if you live near a lake or ocean, you’ll get great cardio from swimming. Swimming might even relieve some of your aches and pains.

Of course, you’ll need to be very careful about the exercise you get during your pregnancy because while you might feel confident and energized, your balance will be off. Your center of gravity is shifted as your baby grump grows farther from your back, and the hormones coursing through your body could make you feel dizzy. There are some exercises you’d be wise to avoid while pregnant even if you’re a pro otherwise. Biking in particular is something you should think twice about.

No matter how great you are at biking normally, you might find that you have a hard time staying balanced and moving in a straight line the more your pregnancy progresses. You’ll probably be fine cycling in the first trimester, but during the second you might notice the change in your center of gravity. As soon as you start to feel that imbalance, it’s time to switch to a new type of exercise. When your bike gets out of control, you could fall and severely injure your baby. Studies show that falls are an extremely common cause of injury to a developing baby in utero even while women are just standing or going up a set of stairs, so you can imagine the odds are not in your favor while you’re on a bike.

Exercise during pregnancy is extremely important to your health and that of your baby. However, you need to make sure you choose an exercise that doesn’t put you at risk for blunt trauma to the belly or a fall. If you’re not sure which exercises are safe, talk to your doctor about your preferred workouts and he or she will be able to tell you whether or not they are approved.

Source: JL McCrory et al: Dynamic Postural Stability During Advancing Pregnancy Volume 43 Issue 12 pp. 2434-2439 August 2010