The changing glycemic response to exercise during pregnancy

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1991 Dec;165(6 Pt 1):1678-83. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(91)90014-i.


This study was designed to test the hypothesis that pregnancy reverses the nonpregnant hyperglycemic response to sustained exercise. Serial data were obtained from 75 exercising women. Before pregnancy, exercise produced an intensity-dependent increase in blood glucose that averaged 1.5 mmol/L at high intensities. By the eighth week this response was blunted and blood glucose increased only when exercise intensity exceeded 80% of maximum. At 15 weeks this progressed and was not associated with a change in either the insulin or catecholamine response. By the twenty-third week exercise produced a decrease in blood glucose that was no longer related to exercise intensity. We conclude that the hypothesis is correct and speculate that the early change in the response is related to decreased hepatic glucose release coupled with increased glucose oxidation. In late pregnancy this is probably accentuated by fetoplacental demands.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy / metabolism*


  • Blood Glucose