Exercise For Gestational Diabetes
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterised by an increase in blood sugar levels. The leading causes of diabetes are unhealthy dietary and lifestyle habits. However, did you know women can develop high blood sugar levels during pregnancy? This condition is called gestational diabetes and affects around 7% to 10% of pregnant women worldwide. Let’s look at how effective exercise is for gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
What are the Benefits of Exercise during Pregnancy?
Though pregnancy is a special body condition in women, the recommendation for exercise is the same as an adult, which is a minimum of 30 minutes per day. Pregnant women must get their daily exercise to keep their bodies functioning healthily- for them and their unborn child.
Compared with other adults, pregnant women must make small changes to their exercise routine to accommodate their physical health– depending on their trimester and pregnancy symptoms.
Exercising is exceptionally healthy for pregnant women, and some apparent benefits are as follows:
- Improves stamina: Working out regularly builds stamina, and during pregnancy, the body demands more stamina.
- Good for your heart health: Working out regularly helps strengthen your heart and blood vessels, helping you improve your endurance levels.
- Lowers blood sugar levels: Exercising during pregnancy helps reduce the chances of pregnancy complications such as high blood sugar and high blood pressure. If you develop gestational diabetes during your pregnancy, exercising can help you manage your blood sugar levels within the normal range.
- Improves your mood: Exercising releases endorphins that improve your mood and relieve stress. Women are more likely to develop anxiety and depression during pregnancy; therefore, exercising can help them manage these conditions better.
- Helps you beat fatigue: Tiredness and fatigue are common throughout pregnancy but more so during the first trimester and later part of the third trimester. Getting your daily exercise can help you beat this fatigue and increase your energy levels.
- Relieves back and pelvic pain: A growing baby puts excessive strain on the back of pregnant women, leading to back and pelvic pain during the last few months of the pregnancy. Exercises that work your back can help relieve this pain and strengthen your back.
- Effective in relieving constipation: Constipation is prevalent during pregnancy. However, regular exercises can help relieve constipation.
- Improves sleep: Many women face poor sleep quality or the inability to fall asleep during pregnancy. Getting a minimum of 30-minutes of exercise every day can improve your sleep cycle quality and ensure you are well-rested every day.
- Quickens post-delivery recovery: The more you workout before and during your pregnancy, the quicker you can recover from childbirth.
- Reduce birth complications: Some pregnancies have complications that can endanger the life of the mother and the baby. Regular exercising can reduce birth complications and ensure a healthy mother and baby.
Exercises for Gestational Diabetes during Pregnancy
Pregnant women with gestational diabetes must perform moderate levels of exercise but keep it flexible depending on how they feel each day. Every day may seem different, so your daily exercise routine must be moderate intensity for that day.
Here are some exercises that are effective and safe for women with gestational diabetes:
- A brisk or moderate pace of walking
- Stationary cycling
- Aquatic workouts
- Aerobics (low-impact)
Flexibility is essential during pregnancy and is a good exercise set for women with gestational diabetes. Some flexibility exercises that you can add to your routine include:
- Stretching exercises with proper breathing techniques
Strength Training Workouts
These workouts train your back and core and include:
- Lifting light weights for around 10 to 15 repetitions and multiple sets.
- Floor workouts like kegel exercises.
Take good rest or breaks between workouts. Always remember to focus on your breathing during your workout sessions.
Safety Tips for Exercising in Pregnancy
While it is important to exercise during pregnancy, regardless of your gestational diabetes, you must remember to exercise safely to avoid injury or accidents. Here is a list of safety tips to prevent the risk of exercise for gestational diabetes:
- Stay away from workouts that have a high risk of falling, like water skiing or horse riding.
- Avoid working out in an excessively warm or humid climate during the first trimester, as your growing foetus cannot regulate its body temperature.
- It is common for people to hold their breath while exercising, but you must avoid it as it places unnecessary stress on your pelvic floor.
- You must not lie on your back for exercises after your fourth month of pregnancy. Check with your trainer or instructor for safer modifications of activities that you can perform sitting or standing.
- Do not stay in one position for too long, as it can lower your blood pressure. Frequently changing your posture helps maintain optimum blood pressure levels.
- Pregnancy hormones may cause your ligaments to relax more, so changing direction rapidly or bouncing must be avoided to prevent injury.
- Try to include only balanced exercises that require you to stand or sit on both feet. Avoid one-sided workouts like lunges.
Pregnancy is a challenging time for your body, and there are days when you don’t feel like stepping out of bed. This is alright! Exercising is important to manage gestational diabetes, but you must always know your limits. If you feel like working out– go for it. If you don't, then it’s okay to stop! Remember to focus on your diet and reduce your stress levels while exercising regularly to manage your gestational diabetes. Read more about gestational diabetes support.