HealthSheets™


Gestational Diabetes: Getting Exercise

Woman swimming.

Exercise can help you keep your blood sugar within a normal range. That’s because your body uses more blood sugar when you exercise. 

Exercise regularly

Your healthcare provider may want you to exercise each day. The best time depends on when your blood sugar is highest. Your healthcare provider will work with you to make an exercise plan that fits your needs:

  • Aim to exercise for 30 to 60 minutes a day.

  • Try breaking up daily exercise into 2 or 3 sessions. For example, go for a 15-minute walk after each meal.

  • Exercise with a friend or your partner. This may help you stick to your exercise plan.

  • Go at a comfortable pace. Don’t tire yourself out.

  • Exercising may help decrease some of the common symptoms of pregnancy, such as bloating, constipation, and backaches. 

Exercise safely

Walking, swimming, and low-impact or water aerobics are the safest things to do. Other safety tips include:

  • Don't do activities in which you jump, turn, twist, stop or start quickly, or lift heavy weights.

  • Don't exercise on your back after the first trimester. This can put too much pressure on an important vein and limit blood flow to the baby. 

  • Be sure not to get overheated. Make sure you don't raise your heart rate to a level that makes talking uncomfortable.

  • Drink plenty of water.

  • If you use insulin, be sure to carry a carbohydrate snack with you. 

  • If you walk or do low-impact aerobics, be sure to wear sturdy shoes.

  • If you haven’t eaten in 2 or more hours, have a light snack before exercising.

When to stop exercising and call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away or go to the emergency room if you have any of the following:

  • Belly pain

  • Shortness of breath before starting exercise

  • Vaginal bleeding

  • Dizziness or feeling faint

  • Chest pain

  • Headache

  • Decreased fetal movement

  • Preterm contractions 

  • Muscle weakness

  • Calf pain or swelling

  • Fluid leaking from the vagina

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