Physical activity may help women avoid gestational diabetes

As obesity rates continue to rise, the number of women who develop gestational diabetes is also increasing. However, a new study has found that physical activity and improved fitness levels prior to pregnancy may help women avoid the condition.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed findings from previous studies that included information about the physical activity level of nearly 35,000 women prior to their pregnancy.

The findings, which were reported in Diabetes Care, indicate that women who got the most exercise prior to conception were 55 percent less likely to develop gestational diabetes than women who exercised the least.

"Gestational diabetes is one of the most common pregnancy complications and is associated with a substantially elevated risk of adverse health outcomes for both mothers and offspring," the authors wrote in their report.

"Physical activity may contribute to the prevention of [the condition], and thus is crucial for dissecting the vicious circle involving gestational diabetes, childhood obesity, and adulthood obesity and diabetes."

They called for more women to improve their physical fitness levels to avoid the condition.