Exercising during pregnancy is good for babies’ brains

When you’re pregnant, there are certain trimesters when you feel exhausted just walking up the stairs to your bedroom, never mind trying to get a good cardio workout in. But, according to a new study, you may want to try. The new report says that 20 minutes of exercise three times a week could improve a newborn baby’s brainpower. The study shows “enhancement” in baby brain activity in those newborns whose mom’s exercised versus those who were sedentary.

pregnant yoga exercise healthy 300x199 Exercising during pregnancy is good for babies brains PhotoApparently, the benefits of moderate activity can be seen in a newborn immediately after birth. The study examined two groups of moms to see how their activity during pregnancy influenced the baby’s cognition. It followed 18 women starting in their first trimester and ending when their babies were between eight and 12 days old. The moms-to-be were randomly assigned to be either active or sedentary. The sedentary group did nothing and the active group exercised for 20 minutes a day, three days a week.

After the women gave birth, researchers used an EEG on the babies to record brain activity in response to a beeping noise when it suddenly changed in pitch. The babies of mothers who exercised responded more quickly and efficiently. This could have implications when the child begins to learn to speak and talk.

Moms who exercised obviously felt better throughout pregnancy and had less severe morning sickness. After giving birth, the moms who exercised recovered faster and slept better. Wait a minute, what? I was not involved in the study but I will say with my first pregnancy I worked out almost the entire time and I still had horrible morning sickness and slept horribly. Maybe I should have worked out more or tried a different activity.

The bottom line is we should all be working out – at least walking daily while pregnant. Unfortunately, while I agree with the study, I’d like to see a follow up study on successive pregnancies, because most women I know worked out during the first pregnancy but couldn’t find the time or energy to do exercise while pregnant with a toddler. I wonder if this has any bearing on birth order traits?

Did you notice a difference in the abilities of your children if you worked out while pregnant versus those children who you didn’t work out during pregnancy?

Are you pregnant? Visit our pregnancy Patient Guide.