Pregnancy is an ideal time to start an exercise and fitness program, particularly for women who are obese. This is one conclusion of a small pilot study published in the June issue of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism (2007; 32 , 596–601). Researchers examined two groups of pregnant women who were obese and had gestational diabetes. Of the 96 participants, 39 dieted and exercised to control their weight and 57 followed a diet commonly given to patients with gestational diabetes.
The women who exercised rode a semirecumbent stationary cycle or walked on a treadmill under supervision at least once a week. They were encouraged to maintain an exercise routine the other 6 days of the week. Half of the women in the exercise group said they worked out for at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week. Significantly more women who exercised and dieted either lost weight or maintained their weight compared with women who followed the standard diabetic diet.
“Doctors hadn’t encouraged pregnant women who were obese to limit their weight gain or have them lose weight, because they were afraid it would hurt the baby,” said Raul Artal, MD, principal investigator and chair of the department of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health at Saint Louis University, in a press release. “We found that obese women do not have to gain any weight, and, in fact, can lose weight and it won’t hurt the baby.”