Staying active during pregnancy has several physical and emotional benefits for mom— including increased energy, reduced complications and pains, easier labor and recovery, and an elevated mood. A new study out of the University of Montreal recently found that participating in an exercise routine during pregnancy can also has a positive effect on baby!
The study followed two groups of women during their pregnancy. The first group participated in 20 minutes of moderate exercise at least 3 days a week, while the second group maintained a sedentary lifestyle. after the babies were born, researchers measured brain activity and electrical responses through a soft electrode hat. They found that in the infants of active mothers, brain activity was associated with what would be expected of a more mature brain, and their responses indicated that baby’s brain developed more rapidly than that of their sedentary classmates. The researchers plan to test the babies again at one year old to see if these effects are long-term.
This study is an amazing contribution to the world of prenatal fitness– since many people receive mixed messages about the safety of maintaining an exercise routine during pregnancy. We know that exercise helps release endorphins which make us feel happier and reduce stress, and exercise increases blood flow; both of which lead to better blood flow to baby’s brain. As long as your doctor has approved you for moderate exercise during pregnancy, it is now clear the benefits of sweating it out a few times a week are extended to baby.
It is also important to note that the monitoring of lifestyles and exercise habits of the ladies in this study did not start until the second trimester, so if you’ve skipped the gym during the first trimester due to fatigue or nausea, it is never too late to reap the benefits of prenatal exercise!