If you’re expecting a baby, then we advise you to include one thing in your schedule-exercise. If you embrace this habit during pregnancy and not surpass the same 20 minutes a day, three times a week, there are high chances that your baby would have cognitive head start.

The Research

In order to study the influence of exercise on the brain of fetus, researchers at the University of Montreal carried out EEG or electroencephalography on 18 infants roughly 10 days after their births. The researchers made ten of the pregnant women exercise during pregnancy, and, on the other hand, eight mothers were not made to exercise.

All those mothers who exercised during the last two trimesters of pregnancy were found to have newborns with enhanced brain development, and also mature brains in comparison to the women who were inactive.

EEG, which measures the electrical activity in the brain, was used for studying electrical impulses in the brain in response to stimuli. The baby’s head was connected to bathing cap-like netting encompassing 124 electrodes.

The researchers made newborn to fall asleep on his mother’s lap when they tested it for the brain development. The test carried out on the babies was auditory memory or sound discrimination.

Elise Labonte-LeMoyne, a PhD candidate in exercise science, said, “We play them sounds — a beep, beep, beep kind of thing — then there’s a different sound that’s a slightly higher pitch, and we’re looking at the brain’s ability to see that as a different sound and react to the fact that it’s a different sound.” This is really significant as the ability to classify sound is an important parameter that defines language development. This is the ability that exists in newborns whereas other cognitive functions develop with time.

A small wave on an EEG is stated to be better, and the same was witnessed in women who exercised during pregnancy.

The researchers discovered that the women who were active during pregnancy gave birth to babies with mature cerebral activation, thus, exhibiting improved brain development.

Authors’ view

Labonte-LeMoyne stated, “Our results show that the babies born from the mothers who were physically active have a more mature cerebral activation, suggesting that their brains developed more rapidly.”

Co-researcher Daniel Curnier, a professor of kinesiology at the university, stated, “While being sedentary increases the risks of suffering complications during pregnancy, being active can ease post-partum recovery, make pregnancy more comfortable and reduce the risk of obesity in the children.”

According to principal investigator Dave Ellemberg, also a professor in the department of kinesiology, the research would be incomplete till the time children’s cognitive, motor and language development is not measured when they’re 12 months old. So, there is more to the study.

He also added that the study would definitely inspire women to change their pregnancy habits.

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