Why Women Who Exercise During Pregnancy Have More Active Children
Exercise – I love it. I didn’t when I was at school nor when I was having babies. But from the age of 40, I’ve been addicted.
And I take no credit for my compulsion because I have no control over it. I just have to keep moving or standing. I’ve even got myself a collapsible table so I can keep standing at my desk.
Turns out there’s a good reason I have no control over my desire to exercise : I was born with it. Or, to put it simply, my mother programmed me in the womb to be an exercise fan.
My mum and dad were fitness fanatics from their teens well into old age. My mum was walking and swimming right through her pregnancies , and she “infected” my sister and I while we were developing.
New research says it’s something every woman can do for her child if she exercises in pregnancy. Scientists say a love of fitness starts in the womb.
Mums who are physically active while pregnant are more likely to have active children, if you believe the results of mice experiments.
Female mice that enjoyed running were divided into two groups. One was allowed access to running wheels before and during pregnancy, the other wasn’t.
During early pregnancy, the females with running wheels ran an average of 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) a night. They ran less as pregnancy progressed, but even towards the end they ran or walked about three kilometres (1.9 miles) nightly.
Researchers found their babies were about 50% more physically active than those whose mothers did not.
Importantly, their increased activity persisted into later adulthood and even helped them lose fat during a three-week voluntary exercise programme. It seems activity in pregnancy influences foetus brain development, making it more physically active throughout life.
Lead investigator Robert Waterland, professor of paediatrics and genetics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, US, said: “Although most people assume an individual’s tendency to be physically active is determined by genetics, our results clearly show the environment can play an important role during
“If a similar effect can be confirmed in people, it could be used to counteract the current worldwide epidemic and obesity. If expectant mothers know exercise is not only good for them but also may offer lifelong benefits for their babies, I think they will be more motivated to get moving.”
Several expert groups, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, already recommend pregnant women get 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise a day.