25–year–old Melinda Williams thought she'd have to quit her daily work–outs when she found out she was pregnant.
"My doctor told me that, in fact, I was highly, already physical and already in the gym, that I shouldn't stop it," she says.
Now new research is backing her doctor's orders. Canadian researchers have found low–impact workouts, like swimming and walking, actually help a newborn's brain develop faster ... And could have even more positive effects as a child grows.
For most pregnant women, 20 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise is recommended on most, if not all, days of the week.
Dr. Diana Friend is Chief of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles.
"Exercise has been shown to have numerous benefits...it makes sense that it may improve and enhance baby brain function," she says.
Scientists placed electrode caps on babies eight to 12 days old And measured activity as their brains' responded to different sounds.
They say newborns with more physically–active mothers had more mature brain function.
"If pregnancy is the time they are going to start an exercise program and healthy lifestyle modification, what better incentive than to do it for your baby?" asks Dr. Friend.
Melinda Williams is due in January and says the latest findings are more fuel to keep her moving.
Researchers have been tracking the babies' cognitive, motor, and language development at age 1 to see if the benefits have a lasting effect.