Pregnancy Exercise: New research indicates health benefits for baby

Expecting mothers may receive a new type of prescription from doctors, thanks to a University of Virginia (UVA) study that shows that exercise during pregnancy can provide significant health benefits for children. The UVA Health research indicates that there is reduced risk of diabetes and other metabolic diseases later in a child’s life when the pregnant mother engages in routine exercise.
The study was conducted on lab mice, but if the findings are applicable to humans, could have “huge implications” for fighting the transmission of epigenetic health issues from the baby’s mother or father. This is important to researchers, according to UVA School of Medicine’s top exercise expert Zhen Yan, PhD, because “most of the chronic diseases that we talk about today are known to have a fetal origin. This is to say that the parents’ poor health conditions prior to and during pregnancy have negative consequences to the child, potentially through chemical modification of the genes.”
There has been previous research into how exercise by expecting mothers has a positive impact on the health of newborns, pregnancy complications, and premature delivery. However, this new study sought to explore the long term effects of the prenatal exercise.

“The take-home message is that it is not too late to start to exercise if a mother finds herself pregnant. Regular exercise will not only benefit the pregnancy and labor but also the health of the baby for the long run,” said Yan. “This is more exciting evidence that regular exercise is probably the most promising intervention that will help us deter the pandemic of chronic diseases in the aging world, as it can disrupt the vicious cycle of parents-to-child transmission of diseases.”