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Exercise And Pregnancy: It Helps Prevent Gestational Diabetes

First Posted: Jun 05, 2015 06:23 PM EDT
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New findings published in BJOG: an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology show that a little exercise goes a long way when it comes to preventing gestational diabetes, otherwise known as one of the most frequent complications during pregnancy.

The health issue can oftentimes result in an increased risk of serious disorders, including pre-eclampsia, hypertension, preterm birth, and with induced or Cesarean birth. The mother can also be at risk for long-term health risks as well, including impaired glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes.

Children of mothers with gestational diabetes are also more likely to be obese or overweight. And, as previous studies have shown, it is better for the health of both the mother and future child to lose weight before becoming pregnant to minimize any potential complications. 

Researchers from Spain examined the results of enrolling healthy pregnant women who did little to no exercise into exercise programs to see how it might ultimately influence the length of their pregnancy on the health of all involved. An analysis of 13 trials with over 2,800 women showed that exercise helped to reduce the risk of gestational diabetes by more than 30 percent.

Furthermore, the results were greatest when seen in women who combined toning, strength-training, stretching and aerobic exercise. It also helped to reduce the amount of total weight gained for mothers throughout the entire pregnancy. 

"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," said lead study author Gema Sanabria- Martinez, from Virgen de la Luz Hospital, in a news release.

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