Should You Exercise When Pregnant?

Exercising when pregnant. Some of us do, some of us don't. While I'm all for "listening to your body" (especially when you're pregnant),  if your body is telling you to be a couch potato, you may want to reconsider. Check out this recent research on exercise and pregnancy. The gist: if you exercise, you're not only helping your baby right now, but you may be fostering life-long healthy behaviors. It's like, the ultimate birthday gift for your little one. This study is awesome!                                                                                                                                                                                 

Researchers decided to look at the impacts of physical activity in pregnant mice on the physical activity of their offspring.

To do this, they took a group of pregnant mice, and separated them into two groups.  One group lived in cages that had working “running wheels” – those round, Ferris wheels we are all familiar with – and the other group also had running wheels, but were locked so they couldn’t move (a little sad).

In other words, one group of pregnant mice could run to their little heart’s content, called “voluntary exercise”, and tended to so for about 6 miles a day on the running wheels (!), while the second group of pregnant mice basically couldn’t get any exercise.

Then the mouse babies were born.

The researchers then took the babies from the moms and put them in their own cages, so they couldn’t learn from mom, including mom’s running behaviors. 

And what they found was astonishing.

Babies born to mom’s that exercised during pregnancy, tended to be more active and run on the mouse treadmills far more than babies born to mom’s who didn’t exercise during pregnancy.  But even more interesting was this seemed to continue throughout their life.  In fact, after 300 days of life, which is middle age for a mouse, they continued to be more active and run more than mice born to sedentary moms.

And not only that, mice born to the exercising mothers, actually lost more fat during middle age when they were allowed to exercise, demonstrating possible long-term metabolic effects.

Now I don’t know about you, but I want my kids to be as healthy as possible. (And talk about Mom guilt if you don’t exercise, sheesh.) While humans are a far cry from mice, if this study has any relevance to us, making sure you move a little bit, even if you’re not motivated to do so, is totally the way to go. If it makes your unborn baby want to be more active and exercise throughout his/her entire life, spending that little extra effort now may have enormous payoffs for them down the road.