When you have gestational diabetes, keeping your blood glucose in a healthy range is the best thing you can do for your baby and yourself. Exercise is one way to help you reach your blood glucose goals.
Increasing the amount of physical activity you do is an important part of managing gestational diabetes. It can help the insulin in your body open the cells to let glucose enter. This lowers the glucose in your bloodstream.
Whether you have gestational diabetes or not, it is recommended that you get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week to stay healthy.
If you haven’t been active before this pregnancy, check with your healthcare provider before you begin. If you have high blood pressure or are at a high risk for pregnancy complications, work closely with your healthcare provider to ensure you stay safe when you exercise.
Keep it light: walking, particularly after meals, and swimming are usually great for expecting mothers.
Whatever exercise you choose to do, make sure you do it safely. Avoid exercises that could put your pregnancy at risk including: contact sports like football or basketball; activities with a high risk of falling like skiing, skating, or horseback riding; heavy weight lifting and punishing activities like cross-fit; activities that focus on your abdomen like waist twists, full sit-ups, or straight leg bends. And never exercise in extreme heat or extreme cold.
If you use insulin to control your blood glucose, an increase in exercise can lead to low blood glucose, or hypoglycemia. Before you exercise, check your blood glucose to see if it is safe to begin. Always carry a snack of 15 grams of carbohydrate with you to take when you feel any symptoms of hypoglycemia.
Physical activity, any physical activity, can help you lower your blood glucose and reach your goals. Each time you exercise stay motivated by thinking about your health and the health of your baby.
And remember, the physical activity you do while pregnant does not have to stop once you give birth. Keep up your activity levels for long-term added health benefits. Studies confirm that thirty minutes of moderate exercise each day is the best way to delay or prevent Type 2 diabetes in the future.
Reviewed by Jennifer Lincoln, March 2020