The role of exercise in reducing the risks of gestational diabetes mellitus in obese women

Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2015 Jan;29(1):123-32. doi: 10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2014.05.013. Epub 2014 Aug 23.


The global obesity epidemic continues unabated, now rapidly expanding to developing countries. Multiple comorbidities and premature mortality are associated with obesity, most frequently diabetes. The associated financial and economical burden is escalating as well. The sedentary lifestyle adopted by many pregnant women because of traditional practices and the current recommendation for gestational weight gain are contributing factors to the obesity and diabetes epidemic. Physical inactivity is recognized as an independent risk factor for obesity insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes; the physiological and hormonal changes associated with pregnancy magnify this risk. Conversely, evidence and accumulated experience indicate that antenatal lifestyle interventions that include physical activity and judicious dieting could improve the pregnancy outcome and reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and is effective as an adjunctive therapy for diabetes in pregnancy. All major professional organizations, among them American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), American Diabetes Association (ADA), Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), and Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC), recommend lifestyle interventions that include diet and exercise to prevent or manage gestational diabetes or diabetes mellitus.

Keywords: exercise in pregnancy; lifestyle modification; prevention of gestational diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Diabetes, Gestational / etiology
  • Diabetes, Gestational / prevention & control*
  • Diet Therapy*
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Life Style
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prenatal Care / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Gain