Exercising regularly throughout pregnancy can help improve baby's brain development, a new study says.
Nearly 20 minutes of moderate exercise thrice a week was found highly effective to have a brainy baby. "Our research indicates that exercise during pregnancy enhances the newborn child's brain development," lead researcher Professor Dave Ellemberg, said in a news release. "While animal studies have shown similar results, this is the first randomized controlled trial in humans to objectively measure the impact of exercise during pregnancy directly on the newborn's brain."
The study included 18 pregnant women and all of the participants were in their second trimester. The women were divided into two groups according to the physical activity they had. Women in the exercise group were instructed to do cardiovascular exercises, 20 minutes daily, thrice in a week. The second group remained physically inactive throughout their pregnancy.
After the babies were born and turned between eight and 12 days old, the researchers measured electrical activity of their brains, using a technique known as electroencephalography (EEG). Interestingly, babies of women who exercised had greater brain development compared to the newborns of women in the idle group.
"Our results show that the babies born from the mothers who were physically active have a more mature cerebral activation, suggesting that their brains developed more rapidly," researcher Élise Labonté-LeMoyne, said.
The study was presented at the Neuroscience 2013 congress held in San Diego, Sunday, November 10.
The findings add to the long list that supports the benefits of pregnancy exercise. According to experts, exercising in pregnancy can help ward off several discomforts in pregnancy including back pain, fatigue, constipation, bloating, gestational diabetes and sleeping problems.
The American college of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends women to exercise 30 minutes daily to improve pregnancy and birth outcome. Previous studies have shown solid evidence proving the importance of physical activity after conceiving. A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, last year found that exercising in pregnancy helped improve birth outcome by avoiding the need for a C-section delivery and helping to recover faster after giving birth. Another study in Hypertension reported that regular exercise in pregnancy helped manage high blood pressure.