If you you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes and exercise is not part of your usual routine, you may have a few unexpected additions to your routine. One will be dietary changes and if you’re doctor feels you are able, exercise. Doctors have found that in addition to diet, exercise is very effective in helping to manage blood sugar levels. It may even help keep you from having to take insulin during your pregnancy. Even if you do require insulin, an exercise program will help you keep that “tight glucose control” recommended by experts.
While researchers have not come up with any specific guidelines for exercise during pregnancy; it has been found that the frequency, intensity and type of exercise are very important. Programs are usually designed from the recommended guidelines for people with Type 2 Diabetes.
There are some other pregnancy complications that may prevent exercise such as; risk of miscarriage or threatened abortion, bleeding in pregnancy, Pre-eclampsia, risk of early labor, lung disease in the mother, or any other health condition that your doctor says reduces exercise tolerance. This article will help you understand how exercise during pregnancy may help you manage gestational diabetes and have a healthier pregnancy. There are even some sample exercises that are recommended.
Remember, it is important to check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine and this article is only informational and does not replace your doctor’s care.
Gestational Diabetes and Exercise for a Healthy Pregnancy
Exercise during pregnancy has many benefits. It can keep you feeling energetic, help you sleep better at night, and ease labor and delivery. It you have GD, it can help you manage your blood sugar levels and help prevent excess pregnancy weight gain.
For your baby, exercise in pregnancy can help reduce the risk of macrosomia or babies with large birth weights. Mothers with GD are at risk for lower placental function, but with exercise during pregnancy have been found to have healthier placenta due to increased blood flow. There is also a risk for preterm labor and mothers who exercise with GD have been shown to deliver close to their due date.
Safety while exercising when pregnant should be your top concern. It is recommended that pregnant women avoid exercise that increases risks of falling or causing large jolts to the lower body. Exercises that should be avoided are; horseback riding, skiing, waterskiing, volleyball, gymnastics, deep sea diving, and contact sports. If a physical activity is questionable, check with your doctor. Lastly, never do any exercise that requires you to lie flat on your back after the first trimester. It can reduce circulation to the baby.
Make sure you know how to check your heart rate and slow down if you become winded or dizzy. If this occurs, do some cool-down walking and rest a minute. Only do what you can tolerate at first and work your way up. Remember, during pregnancy your heart rate will be about 10 to 15 beats faster than when you were not pregnant.
Always check your blood sugar before and after exercise and eat a light snack prior to exercising. You may need a snack after you exercise if you experience symptoms of low blood sugar.
Don’t exercise alone. Use the “buddy system.” This way if you feel symptoms, someone can help you check your blood sugar and take glucose medication.
Always warm-up prior to exercise, especially if you will be going into an aerobic based activity. Then you will need to cool-down for 5 to 10 minutes after exercise by walking slowly until you catch your breath and your heart rate slows.
Types of Exercise for Gestational Diabetes Management
Walking is an excellent way to keep blood sugar under control during pregnancy. It is light to moderate intensity and considered an aerobic form of exercise. Aerobic exercise increases oxygen to the baby, and reduces blood sugar. Aim to walk daily for 20 to 30 minutes a day.
Swimming is both aerobic and light resistance exercise perfect for pregnancy. It helps use the muscles in the arms and legs, plus elevates the heart rate. A daily swim anytime in pregnancy can help keep blood sugar stable. Swimming also helps relieve the weight of the abdomen and can soothe painful hips and knees.
Specialized pregnancy yoga routines can gently exercise the body, mind and spirit. It also teaches breathing that can be helpful during labor. It is a low-impact aerobic exercise, but can be great for stretching and resistance. You can pair yoga with 30 minutes of daily walking to get both resistance and aerobic for best blood sugar control.
If walking works best for you and you can’t get outside, a treadmill is a great way to get your daily walk in. Just make sure the speed and incline are set at a comfortable level and make sure someone is with you during this type of exercise.
Riding a stationary bike can also be a great way to do some outdoor exercise, indoors. This works if you have no exercise restrictions during pregnancy and make sure you set the tension at a comfortable level for your legs. This can be both resistance and aerobic exercise, helping to burn off excess blood sugar.
You don’t even have to have a stair climbing machine if you have stairs in your house or live near a stadium. They are easily accessible and a great way to get your heart rate going. You can include stair climbing into your daily walking routine, or do it on its own with a stair machine.
Exercise during pregnancy is helpful for any expecting mom (unless restricted by your doctor). When it comes to gestational diabetes and exercise, you can reap more benefits from a good exercise routine. You will have a healthier baby, less complications from GD, plus an easier labor and delivery!
Exercise Guidelines for Gestational Diabetes