Think exercise is just for adults? Think again–it’s for teenagers and children and unborn babies too! Unborn babies? Yes…aerobic exercise benefits babies still basking in the womb. How so?

Through the autonomic nervous system, that part of the nervous system beyond our conscious control, baby gets cardiac benefits same as Mama does. Isn’t that the coolest? Mothers who performed regular aerobic exercise–at least 30 minutes, 3 times per week–showed lower heart rates and higher heart rate variabilities (as did their fetuses), than did mothers who were inactive. These were the results of a pilot study presented to the 121st annual meeting of the American Physiological Society, part of the Experimental Biology 2008 scientific conference.

Heart rate is the frequency of the heart cycle, or how often the heart contracts in a given period of time. Lower heart rates are desirable while at rest (not too low, though), as rapid heart rates mean the heart is working harder than it should be. Heart rate variability is the heart’s ability to adjust to varying levels of demand, so the higher the better. In fact, a low heart rate variability can be dangerous. Regular aerobic exercise improves both. And now we know how much it benefits baby too.

Keeping up with one’s exercise regimen while pregnant is important, and although many routines will need to be modified, getting in some brisk cardiovascular work is always a plus. Here are some ways in which you can keep things moving throughout your entire pregnancy:

  • hiking–if you live in Los Angeles, there are lots of places to do this
  • walking laps at a park–try to build up a sweat
  • yoga–many studios offer prenatal yoga classes
  • swimming–great way to take the load off
  • go to the gym–light weights should be fine; use the treadmill

My pregnant wife does four days a week of cardio, yoga, and light weights. She looks great. She feels great, and now I’m calmly satisfied that my baby is getting his or her cardio work in too. Very good. It’ll be keep up with this family.

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