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How Exercising In The Early Pregnancy Reduces The Risk Of Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes is one of the common complications of pregnancy. But you can reduce its risk by doing moderately intense physical exercise.

Varun Verma
Written by: Varun VermaUpdated at: May 15, 2023 19:15 IST
How Exercising In The Early Pregnancy Reduces The Risk Of Gestational Diabetes

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Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) is one of the common complications of pregnancy. According to the, 2-10% of pregnancies are affected by gestational diabetes every year in the United States. But with proper exercise under expert supervision, you can keep GDM at bay. In this article, Dr Somnath Gupta, Consultant Physician and Diabetologist, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad, sheds light on how exercise can reduce the risk of GDM in pregnant women who exercise during their first trimester.

As per Dr Gupta, "GDM is a condition in which a placental hormone prevents the body from using insulin properly and effectively. As a result, blood glucose levels increase in the body instead of being absorbed by the cells."

"GDM is more common among obese women of advanced maternal age, who have a history of GDM and who have a family history of diabetes," said Dr Gupta. He said that this condition can affect the health of mothers and children due to transient changes in the metabolism of carbohydrates.

Risk Factors of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus 

Dr Gupta said, "Women with GDM are at higher risk of experiencing foetal malformation, foetal deaths, preterm birth, infection, and caesarean section than the general population."

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"Both women with GDM and their infants are more likely to become overweight and develop type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, and neuropsychological deficits later in life than the normal population," he added.

Independent risk factors for gestational diabetes and pregnancy-related complications include excessive weight gain and physical inactivity, as per the expert.

Diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes

Dr Gupta said, "To diagnose gestational diabetes, two or more plasma glucose measurements must meet or exceed one of the following thresholds: a fasting level of 95 mg/dL (5.25 mmol/L), an hourly level of 180 mg/dL (10.00 mmol/L), an hourly level of 155 mg/dL (8.60 mmol/L), or an hourly level of 140 mg/dL."

How To Manage Gestational Diabetes Mellitus 

According to the expert, GDM can be managed by lifestyle modifications, such as dietary changes, physical activity, stress regulation, proper sleep, and weight control.

Exercise can help reduce the risk of GDM and should be recommended for women of childbearing age. "Its success depends on several factors, such as correct intensity and frequency of exercise, and management of gestational weight gain," said Dr Gupta.

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How Exercises Works Manage Gestational Diabetes Mellitus 

Physical activity reduces blood glucose levels. Dr Gupta said that exercise causes muscle cells to increase blood glucose intake. It also increases insulin sensitivity to muscle cells, which means they continue to take up glucose after exercise.

He recommended including moderately intense physical activity of 40–60 minutes per day at least three times per week before, during, and after pregnancy. This is supported by research published in the journal Diabetes Care, which found that at least 38 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day was related to a decreased risk of GDM.

Women's self-reported levels of exercise throughout their first trimester of pregnancy were used in the study. It revealed that exercising for at least 38 minutes each day reduced the risk of gestational diabetes by 2.1 cases per 100 women and abnormal blood sugar by 4.8 instances per 100 women.


During your pregnancy, you should indulge in consistent physical activity to prevent and reduce the risk of GDM. But consult your healthcare provider or gynaecologists during prenatal counselling visits.