Fit mothers for more intelligent babies
Is a fit mother the secret to more intelligent children? Although we shouldn't make sweeping generalisations, there are good reasons to believe that it is a significant factor in the health and emotional growth of the newborn child, as well as of the mother herself.
A growing number of studies of expectant mothers confirm that physical activity during pregnancy has significant benefits, of which the most important is that of possibly having more intelligent children.
This is the conclusion of a study published in the "Journal of Pediatrics" (1996), which shows that the children of 20 women who did physical training during pregnancy all demonstrated improved spoken language skills and obtained higher scores in general intelligence testing.
The study also discovered that the mothers gave birth in two hours less time than women who were not in good physical condition, and the percentage of caesarean sections dropped from 48 to 14%.
Other studies, furthermore, show that women who do regular physical activity during the nine months of pregnancy are less subject to pregnancy-related depression and stress, which are particularly common during the first and second quarters (as attested by the "Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology", 2003). And resuming physical activity after the birth is associated with a lower rate of PND, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
So, physical training during this special period in a woman's life not only results in faster recovery from labour, but also a quicker return to her pre-pregnancy weight and physical condition, according to James Clapp III, M.D. of Case Western Reserve University.
Holly Little, the American fitness expert for pregnant women, confirms that "physical training promotes the development of muscular tone and strength during pregnancy". In her experience, women also "sleep better, have better self esteem and manage to recover their condition more easily after the birth".