How Much Exercise Do I Need to Do When I Have Gestational Diabetes?

Most women are reluctant to exercise during their pregnancy. They are afraid that some exercises might cause harm to the baby they are carrying. When they are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the fear of exercising increases since their condition becomes more delicate than normal pregnancy.

baby loveDespite this fear, doctors would even recommend exercising especially for pregnant women with gestational diabetes. The purpose of exercising is not to lose weight, but to maintain it and to prevent you from gaining excess weight that might be detrimental to you and your baby’s health. In gestational diabetes, your cells cannot utilize the excess glucose in your bloodstream because the insulin receptors in the cells are less responsive to insulin. That is the reason why you have to take the initiative of using up your excess glucose through exercising.

But exercising for pregnant women with gestational diabetes is not that simple. There are some considerations that you need to keep in mind to prevent adverse effects and complications. Here are some tips and guidelines that you need to remember to exercise safely during your gestational diabetes state:

  • Ask your doctor. First and foremost, your doctor should know about any exercise program that you are contemplating on starting. Your doctor will be able to advise you well on the dos and don’ts of exercising with gestational diabetes. In general, exercise is safe as long as you are not in danger of pre-term labor and delivery or you have no cardiovascular or pulmonary diseases that might hinder your ability to exercise. Ask your doctor for any warning signs or limitations in exercising during pregnancy.
  • Start slowly. If you were physically active before you got pregnant, take note that you cannot be as active as you were now that you are pregnant. High-impact sports should be avoided in general, and you have to start slow. You can try walking, yoga, and aerobics. Around 20 minutes per day three times a week is good to start, and you may increase your frequency as your body gets used to the exercise.  However, you should always ask your doctor about the amount of exercise that you should be doing. Ideally, you should be able to carry on a conversation comfortably while exercising.
  • Drink lots of water. Hydration is very important when you are exercising. This helps you prevent dehydration, which could lead to pre-term labor because it raises your body’s temperature. Drinking water while exercising can also prevent excess sodium in your body, thus avoiding swelling or edema.
  • Do not forget warm-up and cool-down exercises. Warming up prepares your muscles for exercise, helping you avoid stiffness and soreness in your muscles during and after exercising. Cooling down, on the other hand, gets your heart rate back to normal in a gradual manner. Warm-up and cool-down exercises should be done for about five to ten minutes per exercise routine.

Your pregnancy or gestational diabetes should never be a hindrance to your physical activities.

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Is Gestational Diabetes Preventable?

Is Gestational Diabetes Preventable?

Gestational diabetes can happen to anyone who is pregnant. Although there are factors that increase the risk of gestational diabetes in a pregnant woman, there are some people who still get afflicted with this condition even though they have no prior risk to it. Hence, there is really no guarantee that you can prevent gestational diabetes, but having healthy lifestyle habits before you get pregnant can still make a difference. Even if you have gestational diabetes now, these healthy habits can help you prevent developing gestational diabetes in your future pregnancies. They can also help you avoid type 2 diabetes later in life.

If you want to prevent gestational diabetes, follow these simple tips:

  • Have a healthy diet. Since one of the risk factors of gestational diabetes is being overweight, the food that you eat counts a lot in preventing gestational diabetes. Opt for healthy choices, such as foods that are low in fat and sugar but high in fiber. Fatty and sweet foods can make you gain weight, and if you do not control what you eat, you are well on your way to becoming overweight, or worse, obese. On the other hand, high fiber foods promote better digestion and elimination, thus helping you lose weight. Eat a lot of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, since they are packed with vitamins and minerals and low in fat. Eating the same kinds of food can be boring, but the key is to strive for variety so that you can still eat nutritious food without compromising your health.
  • Exercise regularly. Diet always goes hand in hand with exercise. Although you can lose weight by simply eating smaller portions and healthier foods, your body will only be toned through exercise. Moreover, exercise is good for heart health. This is needed to prevent gestational diabetes complications such as hypertension and heart attack. In exercising, you can start with 30 minutes of moderate activity at least three times a week. Since you are pregnant, you don’t have to do high impact exercises. Simple walking, jogging, biking, and swimming already count as exercises. You can also chop your 30-minute exercise sessions into shorter periods throughout the day if you find the former tiring.
  • Lose weight before pregnancy. If you have plans of getting pregnant, make sure that your body is in tip top shape before you carry out your plan. That means you should make sure that you are not overweight so that you do not run the risk of developing gestational diabetes. Losing weight will not only benefit you in terms of your gestational diabetes, but also in terms of heart, muscle, and bone health. This can also improve your self-esteem dramatically. Doctors usually do no recommend losing weight while you are pregnant unless there is a necessity to do it, so you have no other time to lose weight but right now while you are still planning for your pregnancy.

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What Kind Of Exercise Can I Do With Gestational Diabetes?

Exercise during Pregnancy with Gestational Diabetes

Lifestyle modifications associated with gestational diabetes do not end in dieting alone. Exercise is as much a part of these lifestyle changes, even though you are pregnant. Most pregnant women are scared of doing exercises for fear that they might harm the baby. However, exercising is actually beneficial even for pregnant women, especially for those with gestational diabetes, since it helps keep their weight in check. It increases your body’s insulin response, hence lowering the blood sugar levels more efficiently. It can also relieve stress during pregnancy, which is why exercising is highly recommended for everyone. …….Exercise I Can Do With Gestational Diabetes?

Exercise I Can Do With Gestational Diabetes

There are several sports that are still deemed safe for pregnant women. Low impact and non-contact sports can still be done, such as the following:

  • Walking – This low impact exercise is considered as a good exercise for most people, pregnant or not. Even simply walking down the block to the market or to work is already exercising, so you can even make this a part of your routine.
  • Swimming – What is great about swimming is that it works for many muscles of your body, such as the muscles of your arms and legs. It helps keep you in tip top shape. However, swimming might be difficult during the latter part of your pregnancy, so it is only advisable during the first and second trimesters.
  • Cycling – This is a good aerobic workout even for pregnant women in their early and middle trimesters. Once again, it targets the lower limb muscles, although it is a great cardio workout as well.
  • Aerobics – Gestational diabetics can largely benefit from aerobics, since it helps keep the heart and lungs strong, making it a great cardio workout.

exercise i can do with gestational diabetes

Guidelines for Exercising during Pregnancy with Gestational Diabetes-exercise I can do with gestational diabetes

Even though exercising is good for those with gestational diabetes, there are still some reminders that you need to take not of before you start with your exercise routine.

  • Consult your doctor. This is the most important thing that you should do before you engage in any exercise program. Generally speaking, it is okay to exercise while pregnant and with gestational diabetes, as long as there is no chance of pre-term labor or any other co-existing conditions that might be detrimental to you and your baby’s health. Your doctor will tell you about things you should watch out for while exercising, as well as any limitations in terms of amount or movement.
  • Provide proper ventilation while exercising. Since you are pregnant, you need to keep in mind that you should not exercise outdoors on very hot days, since your body has the danger of heating up and causing damage to your unborn baby. Exercise in a well-ventilated or air-conditioned place, and avoid going out between 10 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon.
  • Do warm up and cool down exercises. You should also start at a slow pace so as to avoid your body from heating up too fast. Warming up can also help your muscles prepare for exerting more effort, while cooling down is important in getting your heart rate back to normal.
  • Drink lots of water. This will prevent dehydration, in turn preventing pre-term labor and high body temperature, which may not be good for your baby. Water is the perfect and safest way to rehydrate fluids for pregnant women, since water is essential for almost all body functions.

You can do things that you love for exercise as long as your doctor approves, and if you want to.  It’s very important to do something everyday, even just a 10 minute walk after eating, to help keep your blood sugar in check.  Aside from the aforementioned guidelines, you can learn more about exercising for gestational diabetics and other pertinent information when you sign up for our newsletter here.

Regular Exercise Can Help With Gestational Diabetes

In a post by News Medical, about Gestational Diabetes and Exercise, they talked about :

Regular moderate-intensity exercise during the second half of pregnancy can improve fetal and maternal outcomes for women who develop gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), show study findings, although the team notes that regular exercise did not significantly reduce the risk for developing GDM per se.

As reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Jonatan Ruiz (University of Granada, Spain) and colleagues assessed the benefits of an intervention promoting moderate exercise three times a week (50-55 min per session) from weeks 10-12 to weeks 38-39 of pregnancy versus usual care for 510 women who were initially healthy and diabetes free.

I usually encourage women to exercise, even just a little, especially after a meal.  It seems to help lower the blood sugar levels and improve the health outcomes, and now there is proof!  Now, regular exercise did not reduce the women’s chances of developing gestational diabetes, but it helped their blood sugar levels.  So, walking about an hour for 3 days a week – which is almost the same as the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week we give to non-pregnant persons, makes a difference.

Keep walking and keep working on your meal plan, using a good meal guide!
Exercise can help with gestational diabetes!