There is a small number of randomised controlled trials, a systematic review ad a meta-analysis which conclude with a high level of confidence that increased rates of physical activity reduce the development of diabetes type 2 in women diagnosed with gestational diabetes (1-4).
The benefits are increased with a wider array of lifestyle adaptations including dietary changes (2). A meta-analysis of 2280 women across 44 facilities concluded that women who were more physically active were able to maintain weight loss at both 6 weeks and 6 months post-partum. The study suggests reduction in diabetes levels (3).
A qualitative review of evidence considers that women have a number of barriers to increase physical activity levels including their role as mother and priorities; social support; demands of life; personal preferences and experiences; risk perception and lack of information. There is high quality evidence than when women are better supported to address these barriers they would be more confident about increasing physical activity levels which they are aware is beneficial for health and wellbeing and the prevention of diabetes (1).
Quality of Evidence
Moderate Quality – B. There are a small and limited number of studies that are present with effects of physical activity with few detrimental effects.
Strength of recommendation
Strong – 1 – despite a limited amount of trials the results consistently conclude a positive interventions that would include both physical activity and other lifestyle modifications but the evidence for physical activity is consistently positive with no identifiable negative effects. There is limited advice as to the best forms and volume of activity although any is seen as positive.
Physical activity can be recommended for women diagnosed with gestational diabetes in the postnatal period which will help reduce the development of diabetes mellites type 2. If used in combination with other lifestyle modifications including dietary changes this is likely to help reduce weight and the development of diabetes.