Because an increasing number of women are obese when they become pregnant — and because obesity can raise the risk of gestational diabetes — this could be good news for the health of these women and their future children.
Gestational diabetes occurs when women who didn't previously have diabetes suddenly have high blood glucose (sugar) levels during pregnancy. It can lead to heavier babies (which can damage the babies' health later on), early birth and type 2 diabetes for the mother later in life.
But, according to this Norwegian study, exercise could slash obese women's risk of gestational diabetes. The 91 obese women in this study were divided randomly into a group that exercised for an hour three times a week or a group that did not exercise (the control group).
In the exercise group, two women developed gestational diabetes. In the control group, nine women developed the condition, these researchers found.
The women who exercised also had lower blood pressure (systolic blood pressure) on average by the end of the study.
These researchers noted that the exercise was not very intense and that not all of the women showed up for every exercise session, which consisted of a mix of cardio and strength training. This could suggest that even a little exercise could help pregnant women who are obese.
Talk to your doctor about how to exercise safely during pregnancy.
This study was published in PLOS Medicine.
Several Norwegian health and science institutions funded this research. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.