Exercising During Pregnancy Leads to Better Motor Skills in Infants

By MarieNelson on September 23rd, 2019

Infants of mothers who engaged in aerobic exercise during pregnancy show better motor development at 1 month compared with infants of nonexercising mothers, according to authors of a new study. The researchers believe that aerobic exercise during pregnancy could be a hedge against childhood overweight and obesity.

Researchers analyzed data from 60 healthy mothers (ages 18 to 35, with an average age of 30) and their infants. During their pregnancies, 33 women participated in 45-50 minutes of supervised aerobic exercise, 3 days a week. The remaining 27 women in the control group were asked to engage in a 50-minute supervised stretching and breathing program 3 days a week, but were otherwise advised to continue with “normal” activities. The infants of both groups were then evaluated for motor skills development at 1 month using the Peabody Developmental Motor Scales, a tool that tests reflexes, locomotion, and a child’s ability to remain stationary.

The Results

  • Infant Developmental Motor Skills scores were higher for the exercise group.
  • In the control group, male infants performed better than female infants in most tests—a finding that researchers expected given what’s known about the role of testosterone in male infant development. However, in what authors describe as an “intriguing” finding, female infants in the exercise group tended to close that gap and even outperformed males.
  • There were no significant between-group differences in maternal age, BMI, number of live children, or education; and all infants included in the study were born healthy and full-term with no congenital abnormalities.

With childhood obesity and overweight rates continuing to rise, the pressure is on to promote healthy rates of physical activity. Authors of this study point to previous research that links better motor skills in infancy to higher rates of physical activity through childhood and adulthood, and write that “the promotion of exercise during pregnancy may positively impact childhood health outcomes.”

As your physical body changes and accommodates to the needs of your growing baby, you may experience pain or discomfort. Physical therapy can be invaluable for remedying common discomforts like back pain, strengthening your pelvic floor and enhancing your body’s ability to have a smoother pregnancy, birth and recovery. A proactive strength, flexibility and stabilization program can be beneficial in preventing or decreasing the intensity of painful symptoms, making your pregnancy experience a more positive one. Providing a customized therapy plan for your entire pregnancy & post partum experience,Western Berks Physical Therapy offers the highest level of evaluation and treatment techniques backed by proven results. Plus, treatment is covered under most insurances.

From incontinence to pelvic pain to pain during or after pregnancy, we utilize different pelvic floor therapy techniques to treat a variety of conditions in male and female patients of all ages, including children. Contact us today at 610-589-2263 to begin your journey to better health now. We serve the entire Berks County region, including Reading, Pennsylvania at three convenient locations in Wyomissing, Laureldale and Robesonia.

For more information on exercising during and after pregnancy, check out our other blogs posts below.

Physical Therapy During Pregnancy
What to Expect When You’re Expecting
Post Partum Exercise 
Let’s Talk About Urinary Incontinence