For women who are pregnant, as little as 20 minutes of exercise three times per week can advance a newborn’s brain activity, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of Montreal presented these findings at the Neuroscience 2013 conference in San Diego on Sunday, providing moms-to-be with even more reasons to make exercise a priority.
In their study, the researchers randomly assigned 60 women to two groups: women who were provided with an exercise regimen, and those who were not. The women kept daily logs of exercise, and pedometers and accelerometers allowed researchers to keep track of the women’s level of activity. Once the babies were born, the researchers recorded their brain activity levels at 8 to 12 days of life. They found that the babies of mothers who exercised had brains that were more fully developed.
Current recommendations by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists urge moderate exercise, about 30 minutes almost daily, during pregnancy. The guidelines are based on findings that moderate exercise can improve back aches, prevent pregnancy-associated diabetes and improve sleep.
This paper is the first of its kind to study the impact of exercise on the newborn, said study researcher Élise Labonté-LeMoyne of the University of Montreal.