Let me start by saying that I’m a little disappointed in myself with this post. I normally like to reference everything I can. In this case, I’m going to be talking about an article I read about Gestational Diabetes. Unfortunately, I can’t find the article again, and I’m kinda’ feeling lazy right now.
That’s okay, because this is more of an opinion piece. Since I had Gestational Diabetes during my pregnancy, I immediately click on any link to a news article about diabetes in general. This particular news article was reviewing a study that concluded exercise during pregnancy does NOT prevent Gestational Diabetes.
This conclusion upset me for a number of reasons. Without having read the actual study, like most Americans, my information comes from the popular press, which tends to sensationalize everything. This, in and of itself, is a problem. The title might encourage pregnant women, particularly those at risk for or with Gestational Diabetes that they don’t need to exercise. That’s definitely not true- exercise is a great way to help control blood sugar!
There’s also the fact that the study design may not yield entirely accurate results. In the study, a large group of pregnant women were assigned to either maintain their normal routine, or exercise three times per week. Besides the fact that this kind of study is impossible to do double-blind (where neither researchers nor participants know who is which group), it relies a lot of human honesty. I’m not saying the participants were trying to deceive the researchers, but it’s human nature to try to impress someone in a white lab coat. So maybe you exaggerate a little- you power-walked 3 miles last night, when you actually waddled 1. Add to this the fact that it’s impossible to control for the various activity levels of the study participants, and you can see how the data might not be 100% accurate.
While I think it’s important to understand why any type of diabetes occurs, the conclusion presented makes me worry. I just hope pregnant women and their care providers don’t interpret these results as permission to avoid exercise. Importantly, I hope I’ve convinced a few readers to think critically when reading any health article in the popular press (except mine, because I’m awesome).