Washington: Exercising does carry a number of benefits and a new study in this regard has found that working out immediately prior to and during pregnancy restores key tissues, thus, making them better in managing blood sugar levels and decreasing risk of long term health problems.
Findings of this study were published in the journal ‘Physiological Reports’.
Being overweight during pregnancy levels the risk of complications in the mother, such as gestational diabetes, and predisposes both her and the infant to develop metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes in the years after pregnancy.
It also has positive effects prior to and during pregnancy, with beneficial outcomes for both mother and her child, preventing excessive gestational weight gain and the development of gestational diabetes, and the need for insulin use in women who have already developed gestational diabetes.
However, little is known about the changes caused to the tissues of obese pregnant mother through exercise.
To answer this question, researchers fed mice with a sugary, high-fat diet such that they become obese and then the obese mice were made to exercise.
They exercised on a treadmill for 20 minutes a day for at least a week before their pregnancy and then for 12.5 minutes a day until day 17 of the pregnancy (pregnancy lasts for around 20 days in mice).
Researchers found that the beneficial effects on metabolic health in obese mothers were related to changes in how molecules and cells communicate in maternal tissues during pregnancy.
“A moderate level of exercise immediately before and then during pregnancy leads to important changes in different tissues of the obese mother, effectively making the tissues more like those seen in non-obese mothers,” said co-leader Dr Amanda Sferruzzi-Perri, a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow from the Centre for Trophoblast Research in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge.
The key organs that were affected by exercise were white adipose tissue; skeletal muscle; liver.
Exercise affected key signalling pathways – the ways that molecules and cells within tissue communicate – involved in responding to insulin (the hormone that stimulates glucose uptake by white adipose tissue and skeletal muscle), in storage and breakdown of lipids (fats found in the blood and tissue) and in growth and the synthesis of proteins.
White adipose tissue showed the greatest number of changes in response to exercise in the obese pregnant mouse, being restored to a state similar to that seen in the tissue of non-obese mothers.
This suggests that insulin resistance of the mother’s white adipose tissue may be the cause of poor glucose-insulin handling in obese pregnancies.
“Our findings reinforce the importance of having an active lifestyle and eating a healthy balanced diet when planning pregnancy and throughout for both the mother and her developing child,” says co-lead Professor Susan Ozanne from the Wellcome Trust-Medical Research Council Institute of Metabolic Science at the University of Cambridge.