While physical activity is beneficial to everyone, a recent study found that exercising during pregnancy benefits both the mother and her offspring. According to the study, women who exercise significantly lower their children’s chances of developing diabetes and other metabolic diseases later in life. According to new research, exercising during pregnancy may allow women to significantly reduce their children’s chances of developing diabetes and other metabolic diseases later in life.
A lab mouse study discovered that maternal exercise during pregnancy prevented the transmission of metabolic diseases from an obese parent – either mother or father – to child. If the discovery holds true in humans, it will have “huge implications” for assisting pregnant women in ensuring their children live the healthiest lives possible, according to the researchers in a new scientific paper.
A mouse study found that maternal exercise during pregnancy reduced the transmission of metabolic disorders from obese parents to their offspring, regardless of whether the disorder was present in the father or the mother. This means that, in the not-too-distant future, a woman’s first visit to the doctor after conceiving may include a prescription for an exercise program.
Exercise during pregnancy may let mothers significantly reduce their children’s chances of developing diabetes and other metabolic diseases later in life, new research suggests.
“The majority of the chronic diseases that we discuss today are known to have fetal origins. This means that the parents’ poor health prior to and during pregnancy has a negative impact on the child, possibly through chemical modification of the genes “Zhen Yan, Ph.D., a top exercise expert at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, led the study. “We were inspired by previous mouse research that showed that regular aerobic exercise for an obese mother before and during pregnancy can protect the child from diabetes onset at a young age. In this study, we asked, “What if an obese mother only exercises during pregnancy?” and “What if the father is obese?”
Exercise and Pregnancy
Scientists have known for a long time that exercise during pregnancy contributes to healthy babies by lowering the risk of pregnancy complications and premature birth. But Yan, the director of the Center for Skeletal Muscle Research at UVA’s Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center, wanted to see if the benefits lasted. And his previous and new work suggests it does.
Yan and his colleagues studied lab mice and their offspring to find out. Before and during pregnancy, some adult mice were fed standard mouse chow, while others were fed a high-fat, high-calorie diet to simulate obesity. Some of those who received the high-fat diet before mating had access to a voluntary running wheel only during pregnancy, allowing them to run as much as they wanted, whereas others did not, meaning they remained sedentary.
The findings were startling: mothers and fathers in the high-fat group may predispose their children to metabolic disorders. Male offspring of sedentary mothers on high-fat diets, in particular, were much more likely to develop high blood sugar and other metabolic problems in adulthood.
To better understand what was going on, the researchers examined the adult offspring’s metabolism as well as chemical (epigenetic) DNA modification. They discovered significant differences in metabolic health and the activity of specific genes among the different groups of offspring, implying that the negative effects of parental obesity, while different between the father and the mother, persist throughout the offspring’s lives.
The good news is that the researchers discovered that maternal exercise only during pregnancy prevented a slew of “epigenetic” changes that affect the functioning of the offspring’s genes. They discovered that maternal exercise completely blocked the negative effects of either mother’s or father’s obesity on the offspring.
According to the researchers, the findings are the first to show that maternal exercise only during pregnancy can prevent the transmission of metabolic diseases from parent to child.
“The take-home message is that it is never too late to begin exercising if a mother becomes pregnant. Regular exercise will benefit not only the pregnancy and labor, but also the baby’s health in the long run “Yan stated. “This is further evidence that regular exercise is probably the most promising intervention that will help us deter the pandemic of chronic diseases in the aging world, as it can disrupt the vicious cycle of disease transmission from parent to child.”