Here’s yet another reason to hit the gym during pregnancy: Prenatal exercise is not only healthy for mom’s heart, but baby’s too. It turns out, taking up a regular fitness routine can lower your baby’s risk of cardiovascular disease down the line, according to new research out of Michigan State University.
This news is particularly useful for women at risk for pre-term birth, as underweight babies often suffer from high blood pressure. If left untreated, high blood pressure can damage your baby’s heart, brain, eyesight and kidney functioning – not to mention, cause a host of cardiovascular issues later in life. When these numbers are carefully monitored and treated, babies can grow up to lead perfectly normal, active lifestyles.
However, this new study linking mom’s exercise to baby’s heart health takes some of the worry out of potentially delivering early. The researchers evaluated 51 expectant moms over the course of a five-year period. The study concluded that women who remained active – running or walking – throughout pregnancy gave birth to kids with lower blood pressure. Even years later, when these babies grew into adolescents, those whose mom’s exercised continued to have a leg up, cardiovascular speaking. The study also revealed one surprising note: Women who exercised during the third trimester had babies with the healthiest blood pressure readings.
Why’s that? There’s a medical belief called the fetal origins hypothesis, which is just a fancy phrase for this thought: If something strenuous occurs to mom during her child’s critical growth spurts in utero, it could result in permanent changes for baby. Translated, that means squeezing in cardio sessions in the third trimester can help override the link between low birth weight and high blood pressure.
The evidence continues to pour in – getting active during pregnancy is a serious boon to both mom and baby. So, how are you keeping fit while waiting on baby? Share your ideas for healthy, safe and fun modes of exercise in the comments below.