Moderate exercise in pregnancy improves health of women with gestational diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on February 12, 2013

Moderate exercise in pregnancy improves health of women with gestational diabetes

Regular moderate exercise can help pregnant women who develop gestational diabetes (GDM) during the second half of their pregnancy, a new study suggests. Moderately intense supervised exercise can improve foetal and maternal health for women who develop the condition, according to the work carried out by the University of Granada in Spain.

A team led by Jonatan Ruiz assessed the benefits of moderate exercise three times a week from weeks 10 to 12 through to weeks 38 to 39 of pregnancy compared to usual care in a group of 510 women who were healthy and diabetes free at the start of the research. It also wanted to see if the exercise intervention modified the association between GDM and birth weight and risk of macrosomia, gestational age, risk of caesarean delivery and maternal weight gain.

The exercise programme focused on moderate intensity resistance and aerobic exercises three times a week in 50 to 55 minute sessions. Just under a fifth of the exercise group developed gestational diabetes, based on World Health Organization (WHO) criteria, compared to 28% of the control group.

Quote from DiabetesForum.com : “I have GD and had it in my last pregnany too. Im not sure if I had diabeties between because I was advised I didnt need to follow up as it would disappear. I now know this was bad advice.”

While this difference was non-significant, the researchers found that the risk of macrosomia, a common foetal complication associated with gestational diabetes, was a statistically significant 58% lower for affected women in the exercise group. Exercising women who developed GDM also had a 1.76 fold increased risk for having a child with macrosomia, a condition linked with significant maternal and neonatal morbidity, compared with those without GDM. The elevated risk was considerably higher for women who received standard pregnancy care.

In addition, women with GDM in the exercise group were also a significant 34% less likely than diabetes free individuals in the same group to require an acute or elective caesarean delivery compared with the control group. ‘Taken together, our findings provide further support for the benefits of moderate intensity exercise, and for promoting supervised exercise interventions during pregnancy,’ said Ruiz. ‘Regular moderate intensity exercise performed over the second to third trimesters of pregnancy can be used to attenuate important GDM related adverse outcomes,’ he added


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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