When pregnant moms exercise – especially during the first trimester – it can have amazing benefits for the baby, both now and later in life.
It’s not groundbreaking news that staying active during pregnancy is good for moms-to-be. There are any number of benefits – from lower blood pressure and decreased risk of pregnancy complications to a smoother birth experience and faster postpartum recovery. As if the benefits for mom weren’t enough, there’s even more reason to regularly get your heart pumping while pregnant.
First, babies whose mothers do cardio throughout their pregnancy may actually have healthier, stronger hearts than the babies of women who don’t. This improved heart health isn’t just while in utero or early in life – it continues into adulthood.
High blood pressure, risk of heart disease, and occurrence of stroke and diabetes are all lowered when a baby is born to a woman who performed aerobic exercise during her pregnancy.
When you exercise, your heart (and your baby’s heart it turns out) are strengthened – doing the same amount of work with less beats, making it stronger and more efficient. In a study performed by Dr. Linda May at Kansas University, babies born to mothers who did aerobic activity during pregnancy had lower heart rates even one month after delivery!
According to May, “A regular exercise program during pregnancy may be the earliest intervention to improve cardiovascular health.” That’s incredible. You can actually begin shaping your child’s cardiac health from the moment you find out you’re pregnant!
Another benefit to performing aerobic exercise during pregnancy? Your baby gets more nutrients. When heart-pumping activities are performed in the first trimester (while the placenta is forming), extra large blood vessels are forged. This means more blood reaches the baby, providing a greater opportunity for nutrient exchange between mom and baby.
Here are some of our favorite ways to sweat it out and get your heart rate elevated:
- Power walking
- Cycle classes
- HIIT workouts
- Hot Yoga (with the clearance of your doctor, of course)
- Training for a 5 or 10K
- Elliptical or treadmill
Check out these free workouts for more inspiration if you don’t have time to hit the gym. -- Free, our favorite! ;)
There’s still a lot to learn about maternal/fetal heart rate effects, but one thing we’re sure of is that exercise HELPS! Stick with your prenatal exercise regimen and you just may be giving your child a head start towards lifelong heart health.