Who says a bump has to keep you from getting pumped?

Recently, researchers are finding more and more evidence that exercising during pregnancy is good for both baby and mom. Moms who are physically active during pregnancy report less mood swings, discomfort, and have a lower risk of gestational diabetes. While their babies are strongly associated with having a lower risk of being overweight or obese as a child. Additionally, maternal weight gain beyond the recommended range seemed to predispose the offspring to gain weight.

But not only does prenatal exercise increase your offspring’s chances of being physically fit; it might also help your baby’s brain develop faster. These new findings were presented recently in San Diego at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and later backed by research from a University of Montreal study.

In fact, according to researchers at the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine children’s hospital. (University of Montreal), as little as 20 minutes of moderate exercise three times per week during pregnancy enhances a newborn child’s brain development.

In their study, the researchers randomly assigned 60 women to two groups: women with an exercise regimen, and those without. The women kept daily logs of exercise, and pedometers and accelerometers allowed researchers to keep track of the women’s level of activity. Once the babies were born, the researchers recorded their brain activity levels at 8 to 12 days of life. They found that the babies of mothers who exercised had brains that were more fully developed.

“This is yet another study showing the importance of staying active in pregnancy,” said  Dr. Jacques Moritz, a board-certified ObGyn at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York. “And now another reason to exercise would be possibly to even make your baby smarter.”

In the past, the conventional wisdom mandated resting during pregnancy was important for the baby’s safety. A misconception that is occasionally still seen today. Now, however, we know that regular exercise can be beneficial to women’s health in various ways – including improvements in mood and energy during pregnancy. With this new study, there is even stronger incentive to exercise for your baby’s health, too.

Currently, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommends pregnant women to log about 30 minutes of moderate activity almost daily.

Before engaging in strenuous physical activity during pregnancy, or if you have a complicated pregnancy, talk to your doctor first. But setting daily goals for 30 minutes of exercise is an important and great start to your pregnancy and to your baby’s life.