Staying active with gestational diabetes

Exercise during pregnancy has a wide range of benefits for you and your baby. If you have gestational diabetes, you have even more reason to exercise: it can help reduce your blood glucose.

If you are finding it hard to control your blood glucose levels through diet alone, it is worth looking at your activity levels to find ways to introduce more exercise into your daily routine. When you work your muscles they use up more of the glucose in your blood, which helps control your blood sugar level.

You don’t need to join a gym (though it's fine to do this): simply going for a half-hour walk after every meal, or going swimming or cycling a few times a week, can all help. Try to avoid long periods sitting down. Try some of our top tips to stay active.

If you are doing exercise, take it into account as you manage and monitor your blood glucose levels to avoid a hypo (a hypo is unlikely unless you are treating your diabetes with insulin or glibenclamide).

Follow these top tips for exercising with diabetes

  • Monitor your blood levels before and after exercise until you become to know how exercise affects your blood glucose levels.
  • Take particular care to eat regularly, and carry snacks or glucose with you in case your blood glucose drops.
  • Keep exercise moderate, with rest periods, so that you do not become exhausted.
  • If you are taking glibenclamide to help you control your blood glucose levels, you may need to have extra snacks before you exercise or reduce your medication – ask your team for advice.

"It was about willpower for me. Once I'd worked out how to keep the sugar spikes down I had a pretty unblemished record." Beth, mum of two

Discuss your plans for exercise with your healthcare team. They will be able to advise you on what to do, how often and for how long. If you don’t usually exercise, start off with 15 minutes of non-stop activity three times a week. Gradually increase this to 30 minutes five times a week – this can be as easy as going for a half-hour walk. 

Find out about more about managing your weight with gestational diabetes.

Read more general advice on exercise during pregnancy here

Read more about diet and exercise with gestational diabetes

Read more about treatment for gestational diabetes


  1. RCOG (2006) Recreational Exercise and Pregnancy: Information for you, London, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists:
  2. Clapp JF (1990) ‘The course of labor after endurance exercise during pregnancy’ American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 163 (6 Pt 1): 1799–805:
  3. NHS Choices [accessed April 2015] Gestational diabetes - treatment
  4. Heslehurst D, Brown A (2013) Managing obesity in pregnant women: an online guide for health professionals
  5. 5. NICE (2015) Diabetes in pregnancy: management of diabetes and its complications from preconception to the postnatal period, National Institute of Health and Care Excellence



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    Last reviewed on March 1st, 2015. Next review date March 1st, 2018.

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    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.

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