Exercise During Pregnancy Not Fail Safe

by Mark Benson on January 2, 2012

Exercise does not guarantee diabetes free pregnancy

It has been advised that pregnant women exercise regularly during the second half of their pregnancy. A new clinical trial though found that this regimen did not lower the risk of developing gestational diabetes.

The research was made in Norway and 855 pregnant women participants were randomly assigned exercise programs. Some were required to exercise three times a week while others were required to go through regular prenatal care. The results found that those who exercised were no less likely to develop diabetes during the last trimester of the pregnancy. By the third trimester, nearly seven percent of the pregnant exercisers had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes compared to nearly six percent with those who did not undergo the exercise regimen.

According to Lead Researcher Signe N. Stafne of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology located in Trondheim said this result was surprising. Current diabetes knowledge has recommended exercise as an integral part in the prevention and treatment of Type 2 diabetes. This kind of diabetes often develops in individuals as they enter middle age or later.

The participants of the study were between the 18th and 22nd week of their pregnancy and those randomly selected to join the exercise group were required to take hour-long exercise classes once a week for twelve weeks. These exercises consisted of low-impact aerobics, together with strengthening and stretching exercises. These pregnant women were also provided home workout programs that need to be done twice a week. The women chosen for the study were at low risk to develop gestational diabetes because they were all in the normal weight range when they started participating in the study.

Stafne added that exercise does not have the same effect on gestational diabetes compared to Type 2 diabetes. Even if there was a correlation, the researcher said that there are still many reasons why moderate exercise is important for pregnant women. These affect their overall wealth as well as keeping their weight gain within limits set for them.

According to latest statistics, nearly 14 percent of pregnant women in the world would develop gestational diabetes. This is a condition where blood sugar levels remain high because of the lack of the production of the hormone insulin in the mother. While this condition goes away after delivery of the child, there are many risks involved in having this condition during the pregnancy. These include having an abnormally large baby, which may require emergency cesarean delivery and the genetic predisposition to develop diabetes later on in the child’s life. Furthermore, developing gestational diabetes also increases the risk of the mother to develop Type 2 diabetes later on in life.

The study was reported in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology and the benefits of exercise, while important in Type 2 diabetics, still do not hold any promise to prevent the development of gestational diabetes. This does not mean though that the findings mean that exercise offers no help to pregnant women in preventing gestational diabetes. The key factor in the low difference between the participating groups was that those in the exercise group had trouble in exercising regularly. Another key conclusion may be because starting exercise at the second trimester may prove to be too late.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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