exercising during pregnancy boosts babys DNA


Boost Your Baby’s DNA by Exercising While Pregnant

We know that an appropriately prescribed exercise program is good for anyone—including moms-to-be.

But new research published in a September 2018 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Mutation Research indicates that the exercise-induced benefits to mothers (and their offspring) extends all the way down to genes and DNA.


The Study: Exercise Reduced DNA Damage in Maternal Rats and Their Offspring

A team of researchers randomly assigned randomly assigned adult pregnant rats into an exercise or non-exercise group. Postpartum blood samples showed that the exercising rats had lower rates of DNA damage and oxidative stress (this is like “rust” in the cells and tissues of the body—aka, no bueno). These rats also had lower rates of macrocosmic offspring (babies who were significantly large at birth).

Interestingly, the offspring of exercising moms also showed lower levels of DNA damage after birth.

What’s going on? The researchers hypothesized that “moderate regular exercise is likely to cause adaptations of the antioxidant and oxidative-damage repair systems.” Specifically, the researchers found elevated concentrations of antioxidant enzymes and DNA repair enzymes in the blood samples of exercising rats.

The authors reported that rat mothers who got to exercise had “adequate intrauterine environment contributing to better fetal development.”



Building Better DNA Through Exercise

We know, we know: rat mamas. A little weird.

And while drawing conclusions from animal models need to be approached with a critical eye, many studies done with human models reveal similar maternal and fetal adaptations as a result of pregnancy exercise, pregnancy nutrition, and even pre-pregnancy nutrition.

Additionally, both animal and human models have shown that moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise also reduces the risk of having macrocosmic babies. This matters, because bigger babies are associated with issues like preeclampsia, birth injury, prolonged labor, and Cesarean deliveries.

In either case, these results are hugely promising. And we want even MORE studies that help make sense of how exercise while expecting can create a healthier environment for fetal development—as well as confer benefits which extend well beyond the womb.

At the same time, pregnancy exercise helps YOU at every level of health, too.


MYB team

Not sure where to get started? Check out Move Your Bump’s comprehensive fitness resources, for health at every stage of motherhood.


Study link: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327634172_Small-for-pregnancy-age_rats_submitted_to_exercise_DNA_damage_in_mothers_and_newborns_measured_by_the_comet_assay

Additional reference: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/04/29/307787984/moms-diet-right-before-pregnancy-can-alter-babys-genes

Additional reference (abstract only): https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1047279798000209