There is no denying that exercise is a healthy habit, and that the benefits of exercising extend to a pregnant woman’s growing fetus in a variety of ways. But just how far do the benefits of pregnant exercise go? Are the sensational news stories true that exercise during pregnancy can actually make your baby smarter? Here are some wonderful facts for you to consider:
The benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy
While many people know that exercise is beneficial for both mother and child, it might surprise them to learn of the many ways in which exercise can positively influence a growing fetus’ development. Statistically, exercise during pregnancy is linked to comparatively healthy birth weights, lower fetal stress during labor, and faster fetal recover times post delivery. And last but certainly not least, there is now compelling evidence the exercise during pregnancy can improve the unborn baby’s intelligence quotient, equating to improved intelligence that quite possibly lasts a lifetime.
The Experiment that Says it All
Of course, there is science behind the bold claim that exercising moms have smarter babies. In a 2001 experiment, scientists exercised pregnant lab rats on a treadmill throughout their pregnancies. When the offspring were born, their brains were examined for chemical composition and electrical activity. The scientists found that those rat offspring born to the rats who exercised daily had considerably increased levels of mRNA expression and hippocampal BDNF. In layman’s terms, this equates to more brain capacity. On top of that, the rat babies born to mothers who exercised daily were able to learn maze patterns and navigate through maze tests much more quickly than rats born to sedentary mothers. In other words, they were smarter and faster learners!
As if the rat experiment is not compelling enough, a growing body of physicians is reasserting the claim that gestational exercise makes babies smarter. In a five year study by a Cleveland University doctor, babies of mothers who exercised during pregnancy were compared side by side with babies of mothers who did not exercise during pregnancy. These children were also compared five years later, and the results were conclusive: The children of the women who exercised during pregnancy scored much higher on language competency and intelligence quotient tests.
Why does this work the way it does? The theory is that because exercise boosts endorphins and other hormones, it may also increase the chemicals that feed brain growth during pregnancy. Whatever the case may be, there is no way around the fact that gestational exercise has the potential to significantly boost baby’s brain power, whether you choose to workout at home or read more about incorporating exercise into the workplace. When you look at this, how can you consider anything but a pregnancy routine that includes plenty of brain building physical activity!