1 800 542 7322
Toll Free Hotline

Exercise during pregnancy: prevention of obesity in the unborn child

It is unclear to many women whether they can exercise during pregnancy without taking unnecessary risks for themselves and their unborn child.

A recent study by Washington State University suggests that exercise during pregnancy is not only good for the mother, it can also safeguard against obesity developing in the baby after birth.

As part of the study, pregnant mice underwent a 60-minute exercise program each day. In their offspring, researchers were able to demonstrate increased protein levels associated with brown fat tissue. This type of adipose tissue acts as the body's own heating system, burning fats and sugars and releasing the energy they contain in the form of heat. Compared to the offspring of inactive mice, an increased body temperature was also measured in the “athletes’ offspring”, which indicated a higher activity of the brown fat tissue.

Increased activity has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity and metabolic diseases.

In a second experiment, scientists fed both groups of mice with high-fat food. It was found that the animals of the control group gained considerably more weight and showed increased symptoms or diabetes or fatty liver than the offspring of the sporty mice.

Although scientists are unable to make any statements about the underlying mechanisms, they assume that the results are transferable to humans and therefore advise women to exercise during pregnancy. It does not matter whether they are normal weight, overweight or diabetic – regular exercise has a positive effect on the unborn child. Conversely, a lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet during pregnancy can also pave the way for later weight problems in the child.

Expectant mothers themselves also benefit from movement. Exercise has been proven to promote well-being and increase physical performance. It also lowers the risk of pregnancy complications such as excessive weight gain, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and macrosomia in babies, thus reducing the need for caesarean sections. Nevertheless, excessive training and targeted weight loss should be avoided. Any intentional weight reduction should therefore take place either before or after pregnancy.

The regularity of exercise and the choice of sport are crucial for these effects, and activities should be moderate and carry a low risk of injury. Consequently, swimming, walking and jogging, as well as yoga and gymnastics are recommended. Ultimately, exercise not only has a positive effect on the mother, but also lays the foundation for the child's health.

You might like the following stories