So far 83 pregnant volunteers have jumped on their bikes for The Cycle Study, a randomised controlled trial investigating whether regular cycling exercise during pregnancy can prevent the condition. However, researchers need more volunteers in order to probe whether the cycling program can deliver the profound benefits they are hoping for.
The project is led by Winthrop Professor John Newnham, head of UWA’s School of Women’s and Infants’ Health, and is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, Telethon and the Women and Infants Research Foundation.
Gestational diabetes affects 1 in 12 pregnancies and has serious health consequences for both mother and child, including complications with delivery and increased risk of developing obesity and diabetes later in life.
Associate Professor Kym Guelfi, of UWA’s School of Sports Science, Exercise and Health, said that if shown to be effective, the cycling program could have significant benefits for the women and their children.
“In terms of the scientific findings it’s too early to say anything, hence the call for more volunteers, but what I can say is women that have been involved in the exercise program have warmly embraced it,” Associate Professor Guelfi said.
One volunteer said that having taken part in the program, she was so much fitter than she had been in a long time: “I feel fantastic. It has made this pregnancy more enjoyable and I am much happier and less stressed.”
Women based in metropolitan Perth who are less than 14 weeks pregnant and have had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy are eligible for the study.
Half of the volunteers have a stationary bike delivered to their home at 14 weeks of pregnancy and are visited three times each week by a female exercise physiologist to supervise the cycling exercise. The program runs until 28 weeks of pregnancy, when all women are tested for the recurrence of gestational diabetes.
Associate Professor Guelfi said the supervised home-based nature of the program overcame many of the barriers to exercise in pregnant women, including transportation, child care issues and lack of support.
The study needs around 200 women in total and is expected to run for another year. Eligible women should call 9340 1705 or visit www.thecyclestudy.com.au