Research was published last week about the positive effects of exercising during pregnancy on the brains of new-borns. It is an angle that doesn't often get covered, the focus usually being on the benefits to the prospective mums, or on the damage you can do to your baby while exercising. How refreshing to have a positive slant from the babies point of view.
The scientists gave one group of moms an exercise programme, where they had to do three sessions a week exercising at moderate intensity (where they were out of breath). The other group were told not to exercise.
After birth, as the new-borns slept on their mums knees with a special electrode cap on their heads, brain activity was measured. The brains of the babies born to the exercising mums were better at distinguishing different sounds then the other group. This is an indication of neurological maturity, or basically an indication that their brains were better developed. What’s more, studies of toddlers up to 5 years of age have shown those born to exercising mums had bigger vocabularies and higher IQs then those born to non-exercising mothers.
This is a victory for exercising moms-to-be. On a few occasions I was accused of doing too much during my pregnancy and people said I was selfish and going to harm my baby. Yes I exercised quite a lot, at one stage during the second trimester I was doing approximately 10 hours / week. I don’t think everyone should be doing this much, but I do think the standard recommendation of 30 minutes 5 times a week is really the bare minimum women should consider. Now we have research to prove how good it is to get out there and do it not just for ourselves but for our babies.
Tori is now 17 months old and indeed already has a broad vocabulary. I tell people it’s because of all the exercise I did. Only problem is she has also picked up a few inappropriate words, courtesy of my mother, when Tori was trying something particularly dangerous while she was babysitting!