Exercise during pregnancy is a healthy option for most pregnant women to improve sleep and maintain a healthy body. Today, doctors have another reason to suggest an exercise program during pregnancy – reduced risk of neurological disorders in offspring. According to researchers, exercise can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases in offspring throughout life.

The study involved mice bred to have the APP gene common in some Alzheimer’s patients. Half of the pregnant mice with the APP gene were given exercise time on the running wheel during pregnancy and the other half were not given exercise time. When offspring were examined after birth, baby mice born to mothers who exercised showed stronger neurological development than those born to mice that did not exercise.

In addition to the reduced risk of degenerative neurological conditions, mice born to mothers that exercised showed less inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain and the vascular system was better developed.

Confirming this health benefit of exercise in the human population will take decades, but the animal findings are a step in the right direction. If human studies reinforce animal study results, the impact could span generations with a significant reduction in cases of Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative neurological disorders.

Doctors already know exercise is important during pregnancy, but now there could be a benefit that lasts a lifetime. Reducing the risk of degenerative neurological disorders affects family, community and the world. According to Dr. Gerald Weissman, editor of The FASEB Journal, “No one is resistant to the health benefits of exercise and this research confirms that reasonable workouts can have a lifetime of benefits for your offspring. Whether you work out at home or go to the gym, you should do it for the sake of your health and that of your offspring.”

Source: A. Herring, A. Donath, M. Yarmolenko, E. Uslar, C. Conzen, D. Kanakis, C. Bosma, K. Worm, W. Paulus, K. Keyvani. The FASEB Journal. 29 September, 2011.