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Exercising While Pregnant has Health Benefits for Baby

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We all know exercise is good for us, even during pregnancy, but new research is showing that it’s also good for your developing baby.

In a study from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, researchers decided to test the fetal heart rates for 66 fetuses at the 28-, 32- and 36-week mark of pregnancy. The mothers in the study were diverse – some exercised vigorously for 30 minutes for a minimum of three times per week, while others didn’t exercise at all.

The researchers in the study looked not only at heart rate, but also at heart rate variability, which is the time in between heart beats and is also an indicator of good (or bad) health.

It was at the second measurement checkpoint, the 32-week mark, where researchers began to notice small changes in the heart rates and heart rate variability of fetuses of mothers who exercise. By 36 weeks, the changes were even more significant.

They also found that the more exercise the mother did, the lower the fetal heart rate and the higher the variability – both of which are indicators of good health. “If [the mother] just does a little bit, it will have benefit,” said study leader Linda May. “If she does more, it will help more.”

May and her group continued to assess the effects of the exercise after the baby was born. Of the babies who were re-examined at age 1 month, heart rate was still shown to be very positive.

“It suggests the result we saw was real, and that it is giving this baby a healthier heart,” May said.

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