Want your child to have better neuromotor development? Exercise when you’re pregnant.
Updated: Oct 30, 2019
We know plenty of women who, once they get pregnant, stop abiding by their usual fitness routines. Of course, you won’t want to over-exert yourself while you’re pregnant. But here’s the thing: if you’ve completely stopped all physical activity, and the most exercise you get is walking from your couch to your kitchen to grab a bag of chips, that’s not healthy either.
In this blog post, we discuss how pregnant women can exercise even late into their pregnancy, and share how this helps their children develop neuromotor skills more effectively down the road.
Can you exercise while pregnant?
It’s definitely possible to exercise while pregnant – in fact, doctors and ob-gyns recommend it. The rationale behind this? The better shape you’re in, the less body aches and other side effects you’ll have to deal with. Exercising also helps you relieve stress, and gets more endorphins flowing through your body. Read this article to learn about what types of exercise are suitable for pregnant women.
How exercising results in better neuromotor development
When you exercise during your pregnancy, this doesn’t just benefit you – it helps your baby as well. According to a study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal, exercise during pregnancy can “positively influence developing” systems, allowing for improved neuromotor development. This leads to infants who are more adept at movement; because these infants are more likely to be active, the findings also suggest that exercise during pregnancy may potentially reduce childhood risk of obesity.
To unpack this, the study involved 71 healthy, pregnant women between 18 and 35 years of age. These women were randomly assigned to either an aerobic exercise intervention group, or a no exercise group, with the aerobic exercise group performing 50 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobics thrice per week.
After the women gave birth, researchers measured their babies’ reflexes and neuromotor skills at one month of age. The researchers found that babies whose mothers had exercised performed better on the vast majority of the tests, and seemed to have more advanced motor skills. Interestingly, the differences were most notable in girls.
Exercising when pregnant: What to expect
When you exercise as a pregnant woman, you’ll tire more quickly than you did pre-pregnancy. Pretty obvious, right? While many women assume that this is because they’re “out of shape”, this isn’t actually the case.
Here’s what actually happens: now that there’s 30% to 50% more blood and plasma in your body, your heart will need to work harder to circulate the blood around your system. Basically, your heart is working overtime, which is why you get tired more easily when exercising. Bearing this in mind, it’s perfectly fine to scale down the intensity of your usual routine and go easy… just make sure that you keep going, and don’t stop completely!