Just 20 minutes of moderate exercise three times per week during pregnancy enhances the newborn child's brain development, scientists have found.
If you have been following a regular exercise program prior to your pregnancy, you should be able to maintain that program to some degree throughout your pregnancy. Moderate exercise during pregnancy increases the newborn child’s brain development.
Researchers at the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine children's hospital said this head-start could have an impact on the child's entire life.
"Our research indicates that exercise during pregnancy enhances the newborn child's brain development," said Professor Dave Ellemberg, who led the study.
"While animal studies have shown similar results, this is the first randomised controlled trial in humans to objectively measure the impact of exercise during pregnancy directly on the newborn's brain.
"We hope these results will guide public health interventions and research on brain plasticity. Most of all, 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," said Ellemberg.
The findings of the study were presented at the Neuroscience 2013 congress in San Diego by Ellemberg and his colleagues Professor Daniel Curnier and PhD candidate Elise Labonte-LeMoyne.
"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," Labonte-LeMoyne added.
The researchers are now in the process of evaluating the children's cognitive, motor and language development at age 1 to verify if these differences are maintained.
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