Exercise during pregnancy could protect children from obesity in later life

A new study has found that exercising during pregnancy can protect children from obesity.

Pregnant woman sitting on exercise mat.

Pregnancy news, 10/05/2019

Although previous studies have shown that exercise by obese women during pregnancy benefits their children, this study has demonstrated for the first time that the same is true when non-obese women are active during pregnancy.

Jun Seok Son, who carried out the study, said: ‘Based on our findings, we recommend that women - whether or not they are obese or have diabetes - exercise regularly during pregnancy because it benefits their children’s metabolic health.

Son presented his findings at the American Physiological Society's annual meeting during the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting in Orlando last month.

The research examined the offspring of mice that performed an hour of moderate intensity exercise every morning during pregnancy. Offspring born to mice that didn't exercise were used as a control group.

125 mice showed increased levels of proteins associated with brown adipose tissue compared to the control group. This type of tissue converts fat and sugar into heat. The researchers also observed higher body temperatures in the exercise group, indicating that their brown adipose tissue was more efficient - or had a higher thermogenic function - which has been shown to prevent obesity and metabolic problems.

After weaning, the offspring followed a high-fat diet for 8 weeks. The mice in the exercise group not only gained less weight on the high-fat diet but also showed fewer symptoms of metabolic diseases such as diabetes and fatty liver disease.

Son adds: ‘Our data suggests that the lack of exercise in healthy women during pregnancy can predispose their children to obesity partially through impairing thermogenic function.’

Can I exercise during pregnancy? 

Exercising during your pregnancy is safe and healthy. There are a small number of exercises or activities to avoid during pregnancy, but you can do most types of exercise including running, Pilates, weights, yoga and swimming. Staying active during pregnancy has many benefits, including helping you sleep better and reducing your anxiety levels.

Read the full research 

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