A Walking Plan for Pregnant Women with Gestational Diabetes: A Feasibility Study
Brittney Whitney, DNP; Jennifer Santerre, DNP, WHNP-BC
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Purpose: To determine the feasibility of a structured walking plan among pregnant women diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) within a maternal fetal medicine practice.
Summary: Physical activity in combination with nutritional therapy has been shown to achieve glycemic control in women with GDM (ACOG, 2015). Recommendations for physical activity in pregnancy include 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week (ACOG 2015; CDC, 2015; U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2004). An innovative project was created to determine the feasibility of adding a walking plan into GDM care. The setting is a maternal fetal medicine practice in the Southwestern United States. The study participants were females with a singleton pregnancy, over 18 years old, less than 34 weeks gestation, and had a diagnosis of GDM. Participants in the project received verbal and written instruction on an unsupervised structured walking plan set up for a beginner to gradually increase physical activity to the recommended time of 150 minutes per week for a total of 4 weeks. A chart audit tool to evaluate walking plan completion and Survey Monkey® to evaluate participant satisfaction were used.
Outcomes: Eight participants were recruited and enrolled in the project after meeting inclusion criteria. Preliminary results show that participants completed over 50% of the structured walking plan. Of those that have completed the survey, 100% agreed that the walking plan was useful and increased their awareness about physical activity.
Implications: Walking is a common and popular physical activity choice during pregnancy because of its high accessibility. Walking at a brisk pace has been shown to reduce serum blood glucose levels, reduce the risk of developing preeclampsia, and excessive gestational weight gain (Kim & Chung, 2015). The addition of a walking plan in GDM teaching is an effective strategy to lower serum blood glucose levels and for meeting physical activity recommendations during pregnancy.
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