In February of 2018, the Scandinavian Journal of Medical Science and Sports reported on a study on exercise in women diagnosed with Gestational diabetes or pregnancy-related diabetes. Scientists at the University of Zagreb and several other research facilities in Croatia and Slovenia found exercise itself is not harmful when guidelines are followed, and can, in fact, be helpful to the pregnant woman.

A total of 18 women, averaging 32.8 years in age, and diagnosed with Gestational diabetes, treated with diet only were included in the study. Their body mass indices (BMI's) averaged 24.4 kg / meters squared (high normal) before pregnancy. They were given an exercise program consisting of …

  • 20 minutes of aerobic exercise,
  • 20 to 25 minutes of resistance activity, and
  • 10 minutes of cool down,

through to the 36th week of the pregnancy or further.

Mothers shown slight increases in temperature during physical activity …

  • both the mothers and their fetus' heart rates went up during aerobic and resistance activities, while blood pressure readings did not change.
  • fasting blood sugar levels fell about 4 mmol / L (72 mg / dL).

The effects of physical activity were the same in the second and third three months of pregnancy and were the same in women who had exercised previously and those who had been sedentary before their pregnancy.

From the above results, the researchers concluded aerobic, and resistance activities did not have harmful effects when performed according to recommendations. They went on to say exercise can be helpful for controlling blood sugar levels in women diagnosed with Gestational diabetes.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises pregnant women exercising does not increase the risk of miscarriage, prematurity, or low birthweight. It goes on to say exercising during pregnancy has the following benefits …

  • helps to prevent or ameliorate constipation,
  • lowers back pain,
  • reduces the risk of developing Gestational diabetes and preeclampsia (high blood pressure with other pregnancy-related problems), and
  • prevents too much gain gain.

Exercises recommended as safe by the ACOG include …

  • walking,
  • swimming,
  • stationary bicycle riding,
  • stepping exercise machines, and
  • low-impact aerobics taught by a qualified instructor.

Aerobic exercise is the kind listed above. It makes heartbeats and breathing faster. This is good for the heart and burning calories. When the mother is out of breath her baby is out of breath also, so do not overdo.

Resistance physical activity consists of muscle training, also called weight training. Lifting weights, pushing against a wall, or performing push-ups are examples.

Discuss your planned exercise routine with your physician or midwife to ensure your exercise plan is safe for you and your baby.