Exercise During Pregnancy Shows Improved Infant Lung Function


Infants benefit from pregnancy exercise

Image by Lucas Favre

Exercising While Pregnant May Benefit Babies Lung Function

It’s no secret that exercising daily is an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Having a regular exercise routine brings many benefits to one’s physical health, emotional stability, mental state, and even physical appearance. But how can daily exercise be beneficial to pregnant women who not only have to focus on their own health but the health of their infant(s) as well?

A balanced, habitual exercise routine is not only beneficial to the body of an expectant mother, but also to their physical and emotional well-being. Activities such as walking, swimming, indoor biking, low-impact aerobics, and yoga are all safe activities to participate in during pregnancy. Many studies have shown that women who exercise while pregnant experience reduced body pains during and after pregnancy, improved sleep habits, and show decreased signs of anxiety and depression during the early stages of motherhood. Exercise can also improve their ability to cope with labor and delivery pains and may speed up the body’s post-delivery recovery. After witnessing the positive impact that daily exercise may have on expectant mothers, further studies were performed to determine how daily exercise may also benefit the baby, their health, and their lung function.

Lung Function Studies

Researchers have found that exercising while expecting may benefit the overall function of the baby’s lungs, as well as their general quality of life.

In a 2016 study trial, 814 3-month-old infants were monitored for signs of low to normal lung functions. A total of 290 babies were born to inactive mothers who participated in little to no physical activity before and during pregnancy. 524 babies were born to active mothers who partook in moderate to high physical activity before and during pregnancy. Of the 814 total babies monitored, a total of 47 babies struggled with low lung function while the remaining 767 babies had normal to high lung function. 25 of the 290 inactive babies and 22 of the 524 active babies resulted in low lung functions.

At first glance, the difference doesn’t seem drastic between the two tested categories. However, it is important to consider the difference in the total number of active to inactive babies that were tested. 8.6% of the babies born to inactive mothers remained in the group with low lung function, compared to 4.2% of the babies born to active mothers. Thus displaying evidence that babies born to active mothers were less likely to have low functioning lungs versus babies born to inactive mothers.

Infants with low lung function at birth are at an increased risk for developing asthma, lung diseases, and lower functioning lungs later in life. Maintaining a relatively active lifestyle before and during pregnancy could be a simple and low-cost way to improve a baby’s respiratory health. Although many are aware of the health benefits that physical activity may bring to expectant mothers, research continues to monitor the infants of active and inactive mothers to find further health-related benefits.

Takeaways

Everyone needs some form of daily exercise to maintain a healthy sustainable lifestyle. It is important to stay healthy and active− especially while pregnant– as the baby’s life is dependent on the overall health and condition of the mother. If you are pregnant or know someone who is expecting, be sure to consult with a trusted healthcare physician or OBGYN about safe ways for both mom and baby to stay healthy during and after pregnancy.

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About Brittany Herring

Born and raised in Houston, TX, Brittany made the move to Dallas, TX to expand her marketing career. As a 2019 business marketing graduate from Stephen F. Austin State University with a background in social media, Brittany joined Empower Brokerage in the summer of 2021 serving as a marketing assistant.

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