The benefits of walking, swimming or dancing during pregnancy don’t end with keeping your own body healthy. Exercise is just as good for your baby as it is for you for years to come. A few of the potential benefits of exercising during pregnancy for your baby:
Reduced odds of diabetes – One study found that rats born to exercising moms had better insulin sensitivity, even once they were adults themselves.
Boost to brain health – Another study looking at pregnant mice given exercise wheels showed that the offspring of more active mice were less prone to neurodegeration (the changes in the brain that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease).
Lower BMI – When mice exercised during pregnancy, researchers found that their babies were less prone to obesity and diabetes. What’s more, they saw the same effect even if the mothers ate a high-fat diet — cancelling out any negative effects that an unhealthy diet alone would have caused.
A fitter heart – One group of researchers looking at human babies discovered that a regular workout routine during pregnancy helped lower the heart rate of the fetuses at 36 weeks gestation (a good thing, since a higher heart rate can be a sign of fetal distress). In 2014, they followed up that study of babies until at 1 month old and found the effects of mom’s exercising could still be seen in the babies’ heart rates after birth.