Exercise during pregnancy improves vascular function of offspring into adulthood

October 25, 2013

Exercise during gestation has the potential to program vascular health in offspring into their adulthood, in particular significantly altering the vascular smooth muscle, shows a new study published today in the journal Experimental Physiology.

The current guidelines for pregnant women recommend thirty minutes of moderate intensity on most if not all days of the week. Unfortunately, not all physicians are yet convinced that is beneficial for both the pregnant women and their .

The results of this study provide evidence that maternal exercise during pregnancy is a powerful programming stimulus in the arteries of the offspring and that this programming may have implications for future cardiovascular disease susceptibility of the offspring.

Previous studies only focused on offspring at an early age, so this study is the first to demonstrate the effects of exercise on adult offspring.

Dr Sean Newcomer, of California State University San Marcos USA, and Dr Bahls, of Universitätsmedizin Greifswald Germany say:

"Our study was the first to demonstrate that maternal exercise during pregnancy significantly impacts vascular function in adult offspring."

"A second important aspect of the findings in our study is that previous research identified the endothelium, which is the single-cell layer lining all blood vessels, to be susceptible to foetal-programming interventions. Contrarily, we show that the was significantly altered in adult offspring from exercise trained mothers."

The research took place in pigs as they have human-like responses to physical activity and can be trained to complete exercise regimens, whilst avoiding the time and ethical constraints of long-term studies in humans.

Drs Newcomer and Bahls explain how they carried out the research:

"Swine are considered a superior animal model for cardiovascular studies compared to rodents. Pregnant swine were treadmill exercised for 20-45 minutes for five days a week, which is consistent with American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG) recommendations. We assessed vascular function in offspring femoral arteries using in vitro techniques."

Future research, especially in humans, is essential to not only improve biological understanding of how exercise during pregnancy alters adult offspring health, but also to ensure evidence-based guidelines for .

Drs Newcomer and Bahls say:

"We are only starting to understand how exercise during gestation influences offspring adult health and disease. Results like ours may help to create guidelines enabling women to make the best decisions for them and their children by providing evidence based health choices.

"Physical activity may act through multiple pathways which depend on type, duration, intensity and frequency of the exercise regimen. Furthermore, it is essential that future research investigates the coronary circulation and also establishes what impact these reported changes in in the offspring have on cardiovascular disease susceptibility."

Explore further: Exercise can reverse negative effects of maternal obesity

More information: Bahls M, Sheldon R, Taheripour P, Clifford K, Foust K, Breslin E, Marchant-Forde J, Cabot R, Laughlin H, Bidwell C and Newcomer S (2013). Mothers' exercise during pregnancy programs vasomotor function in adult offspring. Experimental Physiology, 2013.

Related Stories

Exercise can reverse negative effects of maternal obesity

February 9, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Exercise is the key to overcoming the adverse metabolic effects passed on to offspring by their overweight mothers, with research showing for the first time these effects can be almost completely reversed ...

Recommended for you

Bright lighting encourages healthy food choices

May 26, 2016

Dining in dimly lit restaurants has been linked to eating slowly and ultimately eating less than in brighter restaurants, but does lighting also impact how healthfully we order?

Big Data can save lives, says leading cancer expert

May 16, 2016

The sharing of genetic information from millions of cancer patients around the world could be key to revolutionising cancer prevention and care, according to a leading cancer expert from Queen's University Belfast.

New soap to ward off malaria carrying mosquitoes

May 13, 2016

(Medical Xpress)—Gérard Niyondiko along with colleagues Frank Langevin and Lisa Barutel has posted a project on the crowd source funding site ulule for a product called Faso Soap. They claim the soap can cut in half the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.