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Study: Exercise may not stave off gestational diabetes

I've written before about having gestational diabetes with my current pregnancy. Having been diagnosed early on, I've been fortunate enough to manage my GD through a controlled diet and moderate (well, um, some) exercise. But while I know I should work out more than I do, a clinical study recently published in Obstetrics & Gynecology helps me feel a little less guilty about being a lazy pregnant woman this second go-around.

After randomly assigning 855 women in their 18th to 22nd week of pregnancy to two groups, Norwegian researchers found that pregnant women who exercised regularly were no less likely to develop gestational diabetes than those who did not. (By the third trimester, seven percent of the exercise group had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, versus six percent of the comparison group.) From an article on The Atlantic today:

Those in the exercise program took an hour-long class once a week for 12 weeks -- doing low-impact aerobics, plus strengthening and stretching exercises. They were also given an at-home workout to do twice a week. In the end, the exercise program showed no effect on gestational diabetes rates.

While exercise has been shown to help curtail the risk of Type 2 diabetes in the general population, the jury's still out on whether it can prevent gestational diabetes. But lead researcher Signe N. Stafne, PT, cautions that these latest findings don't mean that pregnant women should abandon physical activity altogether.  "It could be that exercise before pregnancy and in early pregnancy is more important, due to the metabolic changes that occur in early pregnancy... There are still many unanswered questions regarding gestational diabetes and the prevention of it," he told Reuters Health.

And for what it's worth, when I do find the time to exercise, I always see decreased blood sugar levels.

Previously: Pregnant and on the move: The importance of exercise for moms-to-be
Photo by hugrakka

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