Physical Activity Improves Glucose Tolerance in Pregnancy

Women who are very active before pregnancy less likely to develop gestational diabetes

FRIDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Women who engage in vigorous physical activity before pregnancy and at least light-to-moderate activity during pregnancy are the least likely to develop gestational diabetes mellitus, suggesting a link between physical activity and glucose tolerance, according to a study published in the November issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Emily Oken, M.D., M.P.H., of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues conducted a study of 1,805 women, of whom 1,493 (83 percent) had normal glucose tolerance and 312 (17 percent) had abnormal glucose tolerance, including 91 women (5 percent) who developed gestational diabetes mellitus, to assess their level of activity before and during pregnancy.

Women who reported being vigorously physically active in the year preceding pregnancy almost halved their odds of developing gestational diabetes and reduced their chances of abnormal glucose tolerance by a quarter, compared with sedentary women. While those who were vigorously active pre-pregnancy and reported light-to-moderate or vigorous activity during pregnancy reduced their odds of gestational diabetes and abnormal glucose tolerance the most, there were also modest benefits from walking and total physical activity.

"Clinicians should consider recommending vigorous physical activity to their patients who are contemplating pregnancy or are in early pregnancy to promote normal glucose tolerance and to establish healthy lifelong habits," the authors conclude.

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