Exercise in Pregnancy Could Benefit Metabolism of Children

When women carry out exercise in pregnancy it can help their children keep a healthy body weight in later life, according to the findings of a study presented at the American Physiological Society’s annual meeting.

The study examined the offspring of mice that exercised in pregnancy and found that they were less likely to become obese than those whose mothers hadn’t exercised, even after consuming a high-fat diet.

“Based on our findings, we recommend that women, whether or not they are obese or have diabetes, exercise regularly during pregnancy because it benefits their children’s metabolic health,” commented Jun Seok Son, one of the doctoral students who contributed to the Washington State University study.

Interestingly, mice born to mothers who exercised in pregnancy displayed higher levels of the proteins connected with brown adipose tissue when compared to the control group of mice born to non-exercising mothers. Brown adipose tissue is responsible for converting fat and sugar into heat. Not only were the mice born to exercising mothers slimmer, but they also had a higher body temperature, something which previous studies have shown to be a factor in preventing obesity and promoting a healthy metabolism.

Both groups of mice were given a high-fat diet for eight weeks following weaning, with mice from the exercise group gaining less weight and exhibiting fewer signs of diabetes and fatty liver disease.

It has long been known that exercise in pregnancy is beneficial for children born to obese mothers. However, the new study shows that exercise in pregnancy offers benefits even to children of mothers with a healthy weight, including lower rates of obesity and lower incidences of diabetes and fatty liver disease.

The researchers say they now hope to carry out further studies to help better explain the biological mechanisms involved in their findings.