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Prenatal Exercise Is Good for Babies, Too

Maternal fitness may reduce likelihood of diabetes among children.

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Pregnant woman doing prenatal exercise

The global prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing annually at approximately 2.5% per year. Currently, 537 million adults worldwide are living with the disease, according to the International Diabetes Federation, and prevention and effective management are top public health priorities. Tohoku University researchers in Japan have joined Harvard University researchers to conduct ongoing studies so they can determine the benefits of prenatal exercise during pregnancy to an offspring’s metabolic health.

Recent research findings using animal models show that a high-fat maternal diet can predispose babies to impaired glucose metabolism. The good news is that maternal exercise during pregnancy can reverse these harmful effects for infants. In other words, prenatal exercise can support a baby’s metabolic health and reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes throughout their lifetime.

More research is recommended to evaluate applicability to humans. These findings are reported in Diabetes (2022; 71 [6], 1170–81).

See also: Prenatal Exercise Promotes Healthy Circulation

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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