Exercise during pregnancy may cut the risk of gestational diabetes

Moderate exercise can help reduce gestational diabetes by a third, says new study


Exercising during pregnancy? Then you’re a third less likely to develop gestational diabetes and more likely to gain less weight, a new study has found.


Over 2,800 pregnant women took up moderate exercise in the new Spanish study, published in BJOG: an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Following the study, the women – who previously did little or no exercise – found their risk of gestational diabetes was reduced by more than 30%, and by 36% in those who went on to exercise throughout pregnancy.

A combination of toning, strength, flexibility and aerobic exercise was found to work best, and the increased exercise had additional benefit – it reduced excessive weight gain in the women’s pregnancies.

  • Gestational diabetes affects up to 18 in every 100 pregnant women
  • It’s more common in those who are overweight
  • It’s associated with an increased risk of serious pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia, hypertension and the need for a caesarean birth
  • The children of mums with gestational diabetes are more likely to become overweight and have a higher risk of developing diabetes themselves

“Exercise is not something to be feared during pregnancy – the moderate levels of exercise used in these studies had significantly positive effects on health and were found to be safe for both mother and baby,” Lead author Gema Sanabria-Martinez, of Virgen de la Luz Hospital in Cuenca, said.

The Royal College of Midwives have advised that women who are new to exercise should take it slowly – starting with 15 minutes of continuous exercise, 3 times per week, increasing gradually to daily 30-minute sessions.”So for example it would not be appropriate for a woman who has done no exercise for many years to suddenly start running long distances in pregnancy. If women exercised regularly before pregnancy, they should be able to continue with no adverse effects,” Mervi Jokinen, practice and standards professional advisor at the Royal College of Midwives, said.

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