What do exercise, obesity and placental health during pregnancy have to do with each other? Recent research published in The Journal of Physiology may have found an important connection.

The study, which used mice as models of the body’s behavior, looked at the effects of physical activity on obese and non-obese mothers. More specifically, the researchers explored how obesity and exercises affected placental function during pregnancy and the birth size of the infant mice.

photo: Freestocks.org via Pexels

Two groups of pregnant mice were fed different diets—one high-fat and one low-fat. The two groups were divided again, making a total of four groups. Subgroups (two for each of the main groups) were split into mice that exercised and mice that didn’t exercise.

What did the researchers find? Exercise during pregnancy improved placental function and reduced the risk of larger babies at birth. Even though this specific study used mice, the results may also apply to humans. According to senior study author, Professor Min Du, “Understanding how maternal exercise might help prevent offspring from becoming obese or developing metabolic diseases will help us best guide mothers so they can ensure their babies are as healthy as possible.”

—Erica Loop

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