Exercise during pregnancy has a preventative effect on excessive maternal weight gain and gestational diabetes. A randomized controlled trial

Braz J Phys Ther. 2019 Mar-Apr;23(2):148-155. doi: 10.1016/j.bjpt.2018.11.005. Epub 2018 Nov 17.


Background: Excessive gestational weight gain is associated with several adverse events and pathologies during pregnancy.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of an exercise program throughout pregnancy on maternal weight gain and prevalence of gestational diabetes.

Method: A randomized controlled trial was designed that included an exercise intervention group (EG) and standard care control group (CG). The exercise intervention included moderate aerobic exercise performed three days per week (50-55minutes per session) for 8-10 weeks to 38-39 weeks gestation.

Results: 594 pregnant women were assessed for eligibility and 456 were included (EG n=234; CG n=222). The results showed a higher percentage of pregnant women gained excessive weight in the CG than in the EG (30.2% vs 20.5% respectively; odds ratio, 0.597; 95% confidence interval, 0.389-0.916; p=0.018). Similarly, the prevalence of gestational diabetes was significantly higher in the CG than the EG (6.8% vs 2.6% respectively; odds ratio, 0.363; 95% confidence interval, 0.138-0.953; p=0.033).

Conclusion: The results of this trial indicate that exercise throughout pregnancy can reduce the risk of excessive maternal weight gain and gestational diabetes.

Keywords: Exercise; Gestational diabetes; Physical therapy; Pregnancy; Weight gain.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes, Gestational / metabolism*
  • Exercise* / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Weight Gain / physiology*