As it turns out, exercise during pregnancy gives your baby's motor skills a boost! Who would have thought that mom's level of activity would influence her baby's development?
Researchers looked at a group of pregnant women, half of whom were told to engage in supervised aerobic exercise three times per week, for about forty-five minutes. The other half were told to complete a breathing and stretching routine of the same duration and frequency.
The infants born to both groups of mothers were evaluated for motor skill development at one month of age. As it turns out, there is a connection between aerobic exercise in pregnancy and infant motor development.
READ MORE: Will Running While Pregnant Hurt The Baby?
According to the study, motor development scores were higher for the babies whose mothers had exercised while pregnant with them. The researchers found that these infants performed better on stationary, locomotion, and overall gross motor skills. They performed more poorly on reflexes, however.
When it came to the babies whose mothers were not instructed to exercise (but neither were they instructed to abstain from it), males performed better than females on most tests. From what we know about differences in development between the sexes, this is not surprising.
Interestingly, females performed equally well as males on most tests within the group whose mothers had exercised during pregnancy.
So why or how does this link occur? The researchers are not entirely sure. They speculate that it may have to do with certain hormones that can increase the supply of nutrients to the fetus.
Supposedly, a woman who performs aerobic exercise will produce higher levels of growth hormone and another hormone called intrauterine growth factor-1. Aerobic exercise will also improve blood flow and oxygenation. These factors can potentially affect the fetus's development and thereby contribute to differences in later motor skills.
Childhood obesity is a serious problem. Previous research has found a link between better motor skills in infancy and higher rates of physical activity throughout childhood and life. The study's authors believe that women should be encouraged to exercise during pregnancy to set off a chain reaction that reduces the risk of childhood obesity.