Did you know there are potential long-term benefits for your baby when you exercise during pregnancy? In fact, it’s actually recommended that pregnant women get in 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. So, this means 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
This, of course, is only after you’ve been cleared to exercise by your obstetrician, and have no pregnancy complications preventing you from safely exercising.
Recommended safe and effective exercises include walking, light jogging, swimming, water aerobics, cycling, pilates, and yoga. These pregnancy-safe exercises will not harm you or the baby, while still allowing you to get the great benefits from them.
With that said, here are some of the reasons why exercising during pregnancy may have lasting benefits for babies.
Decreased Fetal Heart Rate and Increased Heart Rate Variability
Studies conducted on women who participated in regular aerobic activity during pregnancy showed that these women had babies with a decreased fetal heart rate and an increased heart rate variability.
In other words, their pulse and their beat-to-beat heart rate were slower. This means that even in the womb, these babies showed an increase in fetal autonomic control.
These same infants then received magnetocardiograms at one month of age to see if their decreased heart rate and increased heart rate variability continued. They had!
This shows positive impacts on cardiovascular health and disease prevention for babies whose mothers exercised.
Earlier Motor Development And Coordination
Exercising may also help your baby become more coordinated at an earlier age in comparison to other babies.
A study was conducted that had healthy women exercise for the duration of their pregnancy. One month after the babies were born, a pediatric physical therapist tested their reflexes and motor skills. This included examining how they controlled their head while they were laying down, how they made a fist, how well they thrust out their arms, and their ability to roll over.
The results showed that babies whose mothers exercised during pregnancy did consistently better on all of these things. This gets each baby off to a great start with physical activity which can continue during childhood and into adulthood.
It Can Stimulate Healthy Physical And Mental Growth Throughout Childhood
It’s not only important that babies grow properly while they are in the womb, but also that this healthy growth continues throughout childhood.
Another study composed of children age 5 were exposed to exercise in the utero. They weighed less and experienced less fat mass compared to children whose mothers didn’t exercise during pregnancy.
With childhood obesity on the rise, exercising during pregnancy could decrease your child’s chances of having to deal with this growing epidemic.
Research has also measured neuromotor, cognition, and intelligence to see if these were improved in children whose mothers exercised. The results of these studies were positive as well.
We agree that exercising throughout your pregnancy can have lasting benefits for your baby like a decreased fetal heart rate and heart rate variability which indicate an increase in fetal autonomic control that continues after birth, earlier motor development and coordination abilities, and the stimulation of healthy growth for your baby both mentally and physically that continues throughout childhood.
It’s simply a great idea for pregnant women to incorporate exercise! Enjoy.