A supervised exercise program during pregnancy reduces insulin levels and blood pressure, according to new findings.
Norwegian scientists offered a program to encourage exercise among pregnant women with the aim of determining how this affected postpartum weight retention (PPWR) three months after delivery. PPWR is defined as the weight difference before and after pregnancy, and higher PPWR can contribute to an increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Other health markers were analysed too including blood pressure and cardiometabolic health.
The women were divided into one of two groups. In the exercise group participants completed three weekly, supervised sessions of moderate intensity walking or running for 35 minutes followed by 25 minutes of resistance training. The control group received standard maternal care.
The exercise program took place during pregnancy until delivery among overweight and obese women between September 2010 and March 2015.
Seventy women completed the training, with 36 in the exercise group experiencing decreased PPWR compared with 34 women in the control group. However, the differences between the groups were not deemed to be statistically significant.
Compared with the control group though, the exercise group had lower levels of insulin and blood pressure, which the researchers attributed to the increased physical activity. A lower level of insulin here indicated a lower risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Three women in the control group were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes compared to none in the exercise group. In the exercise group 46.4% reported continuing to exercise more often compared to only 25% in the control group.
The researchers believe exercise interventions such as these could help to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and hypertension during the postpartum period, but added that further research is required to validate their findings.
The findings appear online in the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.

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