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The Do’s and Don’ts of Exercising with Gestational Diabetes

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One important part of any pregnancy, even for those who suffer with gestational diabetes, is moderate physical activity or exercise. One of the best ways to control gestational diabetes is with moderate exercise.

Your blood sugar levels are affected by your exercise and physical activity. According to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), ʺfor women with gestational diabetes, moderate physical activity helps their bodies’ insulin work better, which is an effective way to help control blood sugar levels.ʺ

If you have gestational diabetes, the most important thing to do before you exercise is to talk to your doctor about your physical activity. Your doctor will advise you on the best physical activity for you and your baby. As each pregnancy is different, your doctor may ask you not to exercise because of possible complications with your pregnancy.

As part of your pregnancy, your health care practitioner may ask you to keep a daily journal or record of your glucose levels, diet and exercise activity.

Swimming, walking, prenatal aerobic or yoga classes are all considered moderate physical activity. Household chores like vacuuming, shopping or washing dishes are categorized as your daily physical activities. To manage your blood sugar levels, your doctor may ask you to participate in moderate physical activity.

NICHD offers these do’s and don’ts of exercising if you have gestational diabetes:

The do’s of exercising with gestational diabetes:
• Wear light and loose clothing so you don't sweat too much or overheat
• Watch your level of exertion. For example, can you talk easily?
• Complete regular or moderate physical activity unless your health care provider tells you not to
• Drink a lot of water before, during, and after your physical activity
• Choose activities like swimming which do not require significant time standing or balancing
• Eat a healthy diet and gain the right amount of weight

The don’ts of exercising with gestational diabetes:
• Don’t perform activities in very hot weather
• Don’t fast or skip meals or do physical activity when you are hungry
• Don’t do any activity while lying on your back when you are in your 2nd or 3rd trimester of pregnancy
• Don’t perform activities that may bump or hurt your belly, or that may cause you to lose your balance
• Don’t overexert yourself
• Don’t get too tired while working out or doing physical activity

The exact amount of exercise, which benefits women with gestational diabetes and lowers blood sugar levels, has not been determined by medical experts.

If you are participating in moderate physical exercise program during your pregnancy and you feel light-headed, overheated, dizzy or sick, stop exercising immediately. Contact your doctor immediately, if these symptoms do not subside after you have stopped exercising.

" What I need to know about Physical Activity and Diabetes - National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse." National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Aug. 2011. http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/physical_ez/#before.

"How to Treat Gestational Diabetes - American Diabetes Association." American Diabetes Association Home Page - American Diabetes Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Aug. 2011.

"What is Gestational Diabetes - American Diabetes Association."
American Diabetes Association Home Page - American Diabetes
Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Aug. 2011.

"Gestational diabetes: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia." National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Aug. 2011.

"Managing Gestational Diabetes ." Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Aug. 2011.

Reviewed August 3, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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