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Best for babies if mothers exercise during pregnancy – study


Women who keep moving during pregnancy may produce children with stronger motor skills, a US university study has found.

Researchers at East Carolina University discovered mothers who did regular aerobic exercise during pregnancy tended to have babies with stronger movement skills, versus babies whose mothers did not.

Exercise NZ chief executive Richard Beddie says long gone are the days when pregnant women were advised to stay off their feet.

Experts have recommended for many years now that, unless there are medical reasons not to, women should get regular moderate-intensity exercise throughout pregnancy.

Beddie says the evidence that mothers should keep up physical activity during pregnancy which is beneficial to the mother’s health has been known for some time now.

“But the new research shows baby benefits from the mother being physically active too which is exciting and a real incentive for Kiwi mums to keep active during pregnancy,” Beddie says.

“Aerobic exercise for pregnant mums is shown to give babies a head start when it comes to movement skills and early motor skills, which are so essential for babies.

“Our advice is for mums to include moderate intensity exercise throughout pregnancy. If exercising at a gym or studio, it is important to be getting expert advice on suitable activities from a registered exercise professional who is not only qualified, but also has some speciality training on conditions that pregnant mums may have.

“Pelvic floor and continence issues are particularly important for pregnant women, as incontinence can affect as many of half of all pregnant women. So, five-minute planks, for example, are out.

“We do caution mothers to get advice before they consider boot camp type classes, as encouraging mums to go hard out to get their bodies body back into shape post-pregnancy can have risks.

“There are so many excellent speciality trainers out there, it’s important to make sure mothers seek one out an exercise expert when pregnant and increasing exercise post-pregnancy.

“Firstly, ensure any trainer is registered with the NZ Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) and, secondly, make sure they have specific training in dealing with pregnancy.”

Beddie says the findings of the latest US university study is an excellent example of yet another reason why regular physical activity is beneficial for everyone and a reminder that in doing so, ensuring people get expert advice from appropriately qualified exercise professionals.

The results of the East Carolina study have been published in the latest Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal.

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