Exercise Safely during Pregnancy with Diabetes

Healthy Living

Exercise Safely during Pregnancy with Diabetes

Kathryn GentileContributor: Kathryn Gentile, MS, ACSM-CEP, CPT, CDCES

Versión en español aquí.

During my undergraduate studies, a big motivator for me to be physically fit was finding out how impactful my fitness level and health can be on my future babies. I’ve always been so excited for the day I’m ready to start my own family, and, of course, as any mom would, I want nothing but the best for my future little ones. For now, I’ve enjoyed working on exercise programming with future moms, pregnant moms, and new moms.

Exercise during pregnancy is vital, has many benefits, and is safe for most people. Similar to the general population, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity for healthy pregnant women. Exercise can help keep blood sugar stable, decrease incidents of hyperglycemia, reduce stress and anxiety, benefit your baby, and more.

Some things to be aware of:

  • during pregnancy, some aspects of exercise will be a bit more difficult - For example, there will be less available oxygen (so the exercise threshold will decrease), and there is a shift in your center of gravity which can lead to some discomfort.
  • some exercises should be avoided - Pregnant women should avoide contact sports, high-impact exercises (bouncing, jarring), and activities where the risk for falling increases.
  • other things to avoid while exercising during pregnancy - You will also need to avoid holding your breath with activity, overheating, high altitude exercise, and avoid or modify any supine positions after week 16 of pregnancy.
  • there are some situations where exercise should be done with caution - Some examples include challenges with type 1 diabetes mangement, extreme morbid obesity, and an extremely sedentary lifestyle1. In addition, there are situations where an individual would be advised not to engage in physical activity. The best thing you can do is talk to your health care provider about what is safe for you.

If you’re looking for help managing diabetes during pregnancy, I highly suggest “Pregnancy with Diabetes: Your Month-to-Month Guide to Blood Sugar Management” by Ginger Viera and Jennifer Smith. You can also work closely with Jennifer and me at Integrated Diabetes Services to develop a plan for blood sugar management and exercise programming during pregnancy.

1American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 10th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2017, p. 195-202.

Kathryn Gentile, MS, ACSM-CEP, CPT, CDCES, is an ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist, Personal Trainer, Sports Nutritionist Coach, and holds a level two Exercise is Medicine credential. She received her Bachelor of Science from Ave Maria University and is currently a Masters student studying Clinical Exercise Physiology at West Chester University of PA. Kathryn works at Integrated Diabetes Services as an Exercise Physiologist and provides one-on-one guidance for patients looking for individualized exercise plans. Connect with Kathryn on Instagram at @kathryngentile, and follow Integrated Diabetes on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.