The Preventive Effect of Exercise on Gestational Glucose Tolerance - Timing, Frequency, Duration and Intensity of Exericise Before, Early and Late in Pregnancy
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To assess how different maternal exercise characteristics before, early and late in pregnancy might affect glucose tolerance late in pregnancy. METHODS: The data used in this cohort study was originally collected in the TRIP study at the University Hospitals of Trondheim and Stavanger between April 2007 and June 2009. A total of 855 Caucasian women aged ≥18 years with one singleton live fetus and low-risk pregnancies were included. Through a questionnaire, information about the women’s frequency, intensity and duration of exercise before, early and late in pregnancy was collected. Early (gestation week 18-22) and late (gestation week 32-36) in pregnancy, a 75-g 2-h oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) was performed. Linear regression was used to assess the importance of different exercise variables on glucose tolerance. RESULTS: Regular pre-pregnancy exercise (defined as a minimum of three days per week with moderate to high intensity) was found to be inversely associated with elevated blood glucose levels late in pregnancy (P= .023). Three exercise characteristics showed a significant association with the blood glucose value late in pregnancy: frequency of exercise before pregnancy -0.070 (P= .032), intensity of exercise early in pregnancy -0.300 (P= .008) and duration of exercise late in pregnancy -0.323 (P= .002). CONCLUSION: The findings of the present study indicate that regular exercise before pregnancy has a positive effect on glucose tolerance in late pregnancy, and thereby a preventive effect on the development of gestational diabetes. No such association was found for similar regular exercise during pregnancy. Based on the results of this study, it is difficult to conclude which exercise characteristic is most important of frequency, intensity and duration.