The Workout That Makes Your Baby Smarter

How your fitness level affects your newborn's brain.

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You know that exercising during pregnancy manages your mood, dials down discomfort, and reduces your risk of gestational diabetes. But it might also help your baby's brain develop faster, according to new findings presented recently in San Diego at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

In the first randomized controlled human trial of its kind (translation: the holy grail of scientific studies), researchers studied women in their second and third trimesters of pregnancy. One group ran, swam, or biked for 20 minutes three times a week, while the other group stayed inactive. It turns out, babies born to active mothers had more mature brain activity than those born to inactive mothers: their brain activity was comparable to 4-month-old babies at just 12-days-old.

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The theory: "Exercise might increase the oxygen supply to your baby's brain, which increases the concentration of chemicals that promote development," says Dave Ellemberg, PhD, professor at the University of Montreal, and author of the study. "This could help your newborn develop language and motor skills more quickly."

Ready to get moving? Try this Safe-for-Pregnancy Treadmill Workout.