The hormonal shifts of pregnancy are a challenge for maintaining healthy blood glucose levels. Up to 1 in 8 women will develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancies, increasing risks for themselves and for their babies.
Researchers at the University of Southern California School of Medicine found something amazing. They looked at women who had already developed gestational diabetes. Their fasting blood glucose levels were high enough to require insulin. Half of the women got the recommended insulin. The other half got personal trainers.
Which would you rather have?
Trainers supervised women in a simple exercise bike program. The result? Aerobic exercise was equally effective to insulin in pregnant women. Blood glucose measurements were statistically the same in both groups. Simple exercise is a prescription-strength way to decreases blood sugar peaks and to decrease blood sugar swings. And fetal heart rate tracings suggested that the babies in the studies liked the exercise as well.
Three 20-minute sessions of aerobic exercise weekly have a surprisingly powerful impact. And the blood sugar benefit is still detectable 5 to 7 days after the last session. Of course, exercise during pregnancy has many other benefits including stronger muscles, bones, and joints; less chance of urinary incontinence; easier labor and delivery; and enhanced ability to enjoy your new baby by helping to ward off the baby blues of postpartum depression.