Pregnant Mother’s Exercise Improves Baby’s Heart Health

Moms-to-be, listen up.  Prenatal yoga is not only good for your health – new research suggests it’s also good for your baby’s heart.

A new study indicates that exercising during pregnancy might be the earliest intervention strategy there is for mother to improve their child’s heart health after birth. “It is my hope that these findings will show that efforts focused on improving health need to start during pregnancy rather than in childhood,” said Linda May, an exercise physiologist and anatomist at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences who has led a series of studies on fetal heart development for the past four years, in a press release. “Most of the focus today is on school-age children, but interventions should be focused long before that.”

A pilot study in 2008 found that pregnant women who exercised at least 30 minutes three times a week had fetuses with lower heart rates during the final weeks of development. Now, the team has found that the fetuses’ healthy heart rate is maintained one month after pregnancy, which they say indicates that the mothers’ efforts to exercise have lasting effects. The study involved 61 expectant mothers and monitored maternal-fetal and infant heart function four separate times. The mothers’ aerobic activity ranged from power walking to running. Some participants also lifted weights and practiced yoga. “Not only did the mothers’ exercise help maintain and improve their own health, but it set their babies up for a healthier start,” May said.

*Pregnant women should consult their doctors before starting any exercise regimen.

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