Clinical Science| Volume 62, ISSUE 6, P801-807, June 2013

Pregnant women exercise at a higher intensity during 30min of self-paced cycling compared with walking during late gestation: implications for 2h postprandial glucose levels

Published:January 18, 2013DOI:



      To compare the effect of an acute 30-min bout of self-paced stationary cycling (SC) with treadmill walking (TW) or a resting control (CON) on maternal blood glucose, insulin and metabolic responses during pregnancy.


      Twelve healthy women at 29.9±2.4 (mean±SD) weeks gestation consumed a 75 g carbohydrate drink as part of an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) following 30 min of SC, TW or CON. Blood was sampled before and after exercise, and for 2 h in response to the OGTT for the determination of glucose and insulin. Exercise intensity was monitored and enjoyment of TW and SC was assessed post-exercise.


      Women selectively worked harder in SC compared with TW, with a higher maternal heart rate, rating of perceived exertion, mean oxygen consumption, respiratory exchange ratio, and total energy expenditure during exercise (p<0.05). SC was also associated with significantly lower postprandial blood glucose levels at 120 min following the OGTT (6.9±0.9 mmol∙l−1) compared with both CON (8.1±0.7 mmol∙l−1, p=0.001) and TW (7.8±0.9 mmol∙l−1, p=0.004) and lower insulin at 120 min post-glucose ingestion compared with TW (p=0.021). Enjoyment was similar between exercise protocols (p=0.437).


      In late pregnancy, an acute 30 min bout of self-paced SC may be preferable to a matched duration of TW given the additional energy expenditure that can be achieved, which in turn appears beneficial for blunting the glycemic response to glucose ingestion.


      BMI (Body mass index), CON (Resting control trial), FS (Feeling scale), GCT (Glucose challenge test), GDM (Gestational diabetes mellitus), HR (Heart rate), HRmax (Heart rate maximum), OGTT (Oral glucose tolerance test), PACES (Physical activity enjoyment scale), RER (Respiratory exchange ratio), RPE (Rating of perceived exertion), SC (Stationary cycling), TW (Treadmill walking), V˙O2max (Maximal oxygen consumption), W (Watts)


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