We know that pregnant women benefit from physical activity, but a small study now suggests that as you exercise, your baby gets fit along with you. Researchers at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences followed 10 women from 24 weeks of pregnancy to delivery, measuring their fetuses' heart rate and heart rate variability (an indicator of heart function). Five women did moderate to intense aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes, three times a week; the other five did not exercise. The study found that the heart rates of fetuses whose mothers exercised were significantly lower, suggesting they had a healthier heart, says the author, Linda E. May, Ph.D., an assistant professor of anatomy. That implies the baby's heart will continue to benefit after birth.
"That positive in utero environment will, hopefully, improve the child's cardiovascular function and decrease cardiovascular disease risk," May says. So find a prenatal workout you enjoy. "There are many wonderful ways you can apply exercise to improve your pregnancy and your baby's health in the future."