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The purpose of this literature review is to determine the effect of exercise on gestational weight gain and diagnosis of gestational diabetes. Maternal obesity is a risk factor that may increase the likelihood of adverse outcomes during pregnancy such as excessive weight gain, gestational diabetes, macrosomia, and cesarean delivery. As obesity has become a more prevalent diagnosis, the healthcare field is beginning to see its effects on an abundance of patient profiles, including pregnant women. In the primary care setting, providers are the source of information for patients as to what healthy weight gain during pregnancy looks like. By implementing recommendations for exercise throughout gestation, excessive weight gain and its associated adverse outcomes may decrease in frequency. This literature review examines the efficacy of prescribed exercise programs on the abovementioned outcomes. Research databases including PubMed and ClinicalKey were used to find studies looking at the effect of exercise on weight gain and diabetes diagnosis during pregnancy. Inclusion and exclusion criteria, later discussed in the methods section, were used to further narrow down papers. Results of this study showed that exercise was able to decrease occurrence of excessive weight gain and gestational diabetes diagnosis in women with pre-pregnancy BMIs in the overweight and obese categories. Further research may need to be done that evaluates the role of physical activity in addition to nutrition, as both are key components to gaining healthy weight during pregnancy.


Physician Assistant Studies

Degree Name

Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)

Date of Work


First Advisor

Carr, Kristen

Publication Date

Spring 2024


gestational diabetes, maternal weight gain, obesity in pregnancy, exercise during pregnancy, exercise effect on gestational weight gain


Medicine and Health Sciences

Exercise Effect on Gestational Weight Gain and Diabetes in Women of Elevated BMI