The researchers contacted a total of 780 Spanish pregnant women attending two primary health care centres in Leganés (Madrid). Finally, 510 gave their consent to participate in the study. They all recognized they were sedentary -- that is, that they exercised for less than 20 minutes on fewer than 3 days a week.
The intervention group followed a training program that consisted of 55 minute sessions of aerobic, muscle strength and flexibility exercises on three days a week from weeks 10-12 to weeks 38-39 of pregnancy, while the control group received standard recommendations and care.
The results showed the training sessions did not reduce the appearance of gestational diabetes mellitus but did diminish the incidence of two major associated risks: macrosomia [high birth weight babies] (down by 58%) and caesarean delivery (which fell by 34%).
These findings "reinforce the need to encourage more supervised exercise interventions during pregnancy to combat the negative effects of gestational diabetes mellitus," says Jonatan Ruiz, researcher in the University of Granada Department of Physical and Sports Education and corresponding author of the study.
Image: Pregnant woman exercising, via Shutterstock