Are you pregnant? (A few of you seem to be, judging from the comments coming through on the site.) Or are you planning on being pregnant one day? Or will someone you know be pregnant one day?
Then this post is for you. And it’s going to make sure that your baby is the genius child to beat all other genius children.
That’s right; while other children will be pushing trucks around sandpits, your child will be already solving quadratic equations with imaginary numbers. And they’ll also be able to cook you a three-course Vietnamese meal while reciting all of the works of Jane Austen.
Okay… perhaps not. But there have absolutely been some interesting discoveries in the field of pregnancy and baby brains.
We already know that exercise is beneficial for our health, and it’s constantly been found to improve brain health and activity. But now, a trio of researchers from the University of Montreal in Canada have deduced that the same might just go for babies in utero.
That’s right. If you exercise while pregnant, your baby’s brain might just be better off.
The researchers gathered a group of women in their first trimester of pregnancy, and divided them into “active” or “sedentary” groups. The active group exercised at a moderate pace, at least three times a week, for 20 minutes of day.
Once the babies were born, their brains were tested with 124 soft electrodes that test for electrical activity in the brain. (Don’t worry – no babies were harmed in the process.) And guess what?
The babies who had active mothers actually had more active brains than the babies of those who did no exercise.
In a statement, one of the researchers who participated in the experiment said: “We are optimistic that this will encourage women to change their health habits, given that the simple act of exercising during pregnancy could make a difference for their child’s future.”
There is, of course, more research to come out of this area; the researchers are also going to continue monitoring the babies’ brains throughout the first year of life to see if any long-standing changes take place.
However, the results thus far have been pretty remarkable, and just go to show that anything that’s beneficial for a mother is also beneficial for her unborn baby.
Plus – it’s only 20 mins a day, three times a week. That’s not so hard at all.
It’s amazing to think that not so long ago, it was advised that pregnant women shouldn’t exercise during pregnancy; and now, it’s far more commonly accepted that not doing anything puts you at more of a health risk.
On her website, Michelle Bridges writes about pregnancy during exercise, saying that regular exercise is more important than ever while you’re carrying that bun in the oven. That said – you do have to figure out what kinds of exercise are safe, and how to adapt existing workouts to your body. Which is changing. Obviously.
After getting the green light from your doctor, Bridges reckons that you’re fine to walk, swim, do yoga, pilates, water aerobics, step machines, dancing and stationary cycling:
Once your doctor has given you the go-ahead to exercise, aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most (if not all) days of the week. You should still be able to talk without feeling short of breath.
Start slowly if you’re new to exercise, but don’t be afraid to break a sweat. If your pre-pregnancy fitness level was intermediate, keep doing what you were doing as long as you feel good. While that rule also applies if you were super-fit before pregnancy, you might need to scale back your workout intensity slightly. At the very least, you shouldn’t try to increase your fitness level or beat any personal bests. Whatever your level of fitness, listen to your body – it’s an age-old cliché, but it’s particularly important during pregnancy.
You can also continue running, strength training and non-contact ball sports if you engaged in them prior to pregnancy.
For more details (including notes on who SHOULDN’T exercise during pregnancy), go here.
If you’ve been pregnant – did you exercise during your pregnancy? If not – would you?