Protecting the Unborn with Exercise

Exercising while pregnant helps develop stronger and healthier newborn babies

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Newborn babies enter the world with more toned muscles if mothers exercise regularly during pregnancy.

And researchers are getting ready to see what other health effects unborn babies will be equipped with when mom stays physical active.

"Talk to your doctor about an exercise plan while pregnant."

Researchers at the University of Kentucky are set to begin their study on how exercising during pregnancy affects an unborn child's risk of having cancer.

They will be working with a group from the UK Graduate Center for Nutritional Sciences who received a $100,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Researcher Kevin Pearson, an assistant professor for the UK Graduate Center for Nutritional Sciences, says the goal is to find simple, short-term interventions for the mother — such as regular exercise during pregnancy — that help protect against many common diseases in her offspring.

The team had previously performed a similar study on mice to see how exercise affected their blood sugar regulation and stress level.

In that study, half the mice were sedentary and the other half exercised.

This second group of mice, both male and female, had access to a wheel and was able to run before mating, during pregnancy and while nursing.

Researchers found the offspring from mice who had exercised had better blood sugar regulation and stress protection compared to those born from sedentary ones.

Baby male mice from mothers who had exercised also had more lean muscle and less fat compared to those born from the sedentary mice.

There was no difference between the female baby mice of both groups.

The authors said that this short-term exercise before and during a healthy pregnancy stabilized long-term blood sugar regulation in babies.

"The benefits of exercise for individuals have been studied extensively -- everyone knows that exercise is good for you," Dr. Pearson said.

"But what if it not only helped you, but also your children? We think there's a high probability that parents will stay committed to a short-term exercise routine during pregnancy if we can show that it can provide a lifetime of beneficial effects for their sons and daughters."

The pilot study was published online August 28 in the American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 5, 2012
Last Updated:
October 7, 2012