Getting motivated to workout can be tough when you're pregnant and have morning sickness, hot flashes or swollen feet; feel exhausted; or are just so big you don't feel comfortable sitting or standing, let alone exercising. Well, here's a really good reason to get off the couch and start moving: Canadian researchers have found that just 20-minute workouts three times a week while pregnant, leads to excelled brain development in your baby.
Researchers from the University of Montreal had 10 pregnant women exercise enough to leave them slightly short of breath at least three times a week. Some women ran, others walked, cycled or swam. Meanwhile, a second group of moms-to-be were only moderately active for around 10 minutes a week. When the babies were born, researchers measured their brain activity, and it was found that the babies whose moms worked out more had more mature brain functions than those born to moms who didn't exercise as much.
While it's not clear why exercise helps the unborn child's brain, according to the Daily Mail, "it may be because it increases the oxygen supply to the baby, or it may increase production of the brain-boosting protein called BDNF."
As a mom-to-be, of course you want to do anything you can to ensure your baby is happy and healthy. So giving your child a leg up intellectually is a huge bonus. But don't forget that exercising while pregnant is also great for you. Physical activity will get your body in shape to take on the strenuous workout that is childbirth! It helps with your ability to breathe during labor and gives you the strength to push when you're body is telling you it's completely tapped out. Research has also shown that working out while pregnant can help prevent Gestational Diabetes and C-Section births. Plus, the more fit you are before you have the baby, the easier it is for your body to bounce back post-pregnancy.
So as tempting as it is to let yourself go during pregnancy, and eat whatever you want, and not workout, both you and your baby will be better after just a few light workouts a week. Push yourself—it's worth it!
To find out which exercises can help you have an easier childbirth, read this.
Image of pregnant woman exercising courtesy of Shutterstock.