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Pregnant Women Who Exercise Have Smarter Babies — New Study

Mon, November 11, 2013 5:39pm EDT by Kristine Kowalski 2 Comments
Pregnant Women Exercise
Ryan McVay/Getty

Exercising during pregnancy isn’t just great for keeping healthy and minding your figure! A new study from the University of Montreal found that moms who worked out regularly while pregnant had brighter babies with more maturely developed brains than babies of moms who had not.

Canadian neuroscientists found that even three 20-minute workout sessions a week were enough to expose babies in the womb to increased oxygen flow, which is believed to be the cause of studied babies’ increased brain activity. Moms who exercised over the course of the study had babies who recognized more unique sounds when tested than babies of moms who had not exercised — signs of advanced brain functioning.

Pregnant Women Who Exercise Birth Smarter Babies: New Research Study

Canadian researchers hope their new findings will encourage pregnant women to engage in moderate fitness routines — and not just for themselves! “Our research indicates that exercise during pregnancy enhances the newborn’s brain development,” said Professor Dave Ellemberg, leader of the study.

Over the course of the study, researchers asked ten pregnant women to exercise enough to leave them slightly short of breath at least three times a week, reported The Daily Mail. They put in almost two hours of exercise a week on average, engaging in different fitness activities – “some walked briskly, while others ran, cycled or went swimming,” said the site.

Another group of expectant mothers did not exercise, and were only active about ten minutes per week.

After the babies were born, researchers measured the newborns’ brain activity by having the babies wear a cap covered in harmless electrodes. These devices measured the babies’ abilities to recognize different sounds. Babies whose mothers had exercised were more successful in distinguishing between alike sounds, signifying more mature brain development, reported The Mail.

Pregnancy Fitness Routines Help Moms & Babies

Not only did the babies have increased brain activities, but the mothers felt more prepared for labor and delivery. “Thinking about your child is very good motivation but also do it for yourself,” said researcher Élise Labonté-LeMoyne. “You are training to give birth and that is probably going to be the hardest thing you will do in your life. If you are physically fit it could be a little easier to get through it and get back from it.”

What do YOU think, HollyMoms? Are you shocked that moms’ fitness during pregnancy helps the babies?

— Kristine Hope Kowalski

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