First trimester exercise may lower gestational diabetes risk

Exercise in first trimester may reduce risk of gestational diabetes

Expecting mums who up their exercise in the first trimester, may have a lower risk of developing gestational diabetes, a new study has found.

While the current advice for pregnant women is to do at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week, the University of Tennessee study found that at least 38 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day in the first trimester could keep gestational diabetes at bay.

Pregnancy exercise may reduce GD risk

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In Australia, GD is the fastest-growing type of diabetes, and according to Diabetes Australia, it impacts up to 14 percent of expecting mums. Women are tested for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, and while the majority of mums who are diagnosed have healthy pregnancies, it can lead to complications.

The new study points to a lower risk of developing GD with a slight increase in the amount of exercise expecting mums do in their first trimester. “We know that exercise is safe and beneficial for healthy pregnant women,” said study leader assistant professor Samantha Ehrlich. “These results show that exercise is helpful in avoiding gestational diabetes, though you might need to do a little bit more than currently recommended to enjoy that benefit.”

The study was based on more than 2000 women self-reporting how much exercise they did in their first trimester. It discovered that exercising for at least 38 minutes a day lowered the risk of GD by 2.1 cases per 100 women, and the risk of abnormal blood sugar by 4.8 cases per 100 women.

“We know that six to 10 women per 100 get gestational diabetes,” Ms Ehrlich said. “If being more active could reduce that by two women per 100, that’s a clear benefit.”

Exercise during pregnancy

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Exercise during pregnancy has a huge amount of benefits, including reduced back pain, increased energy, and fewer delivery complications. According to Better Health, once being cleared by a doctor, it’s recommended pregnant women do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days or every day. Suggested activities include:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Jogging
  • Muscle strengthening exercises
  • Aquarobics
  • Pregnancy yoga
  • Pregnancy pilates

The researchers say there may need to be a rethink on the current pregnancy exercise recommendations.

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