WSU researchers say exercising during pregnancy reduces obesity among offspring

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PULLMAN, Wash. — New research from Washington State University suggests exercising during pregnancy reduces obesity among offspring.

Min Du, professor of animal sciences at WSU, and his PhD student Jun Seok Son found exercise during pregnancy stimulates the production of brown adipose tissue (brown fat) in a developing fetus.

Brown fat burns off heat and is often called a good fat. White adipose tissue (white fat) is harder to burn off and is known as bad fat.

Du and Son studied brown and white fat in pregnant mice.

According to a release from WSU, their research found the offspring of physically fit mice that exercised daily during pregnancy not only had a greater proportion of brown fat relative to body weight, but also burned white fat off quicker compared to the offspring of pregnant mice that did not exercise.

“Previous research has shown that exercise among overweight women during pregnancy protects against metabolic dysfunction and obesity in their offspring,” Du said. “This new study shows these benefits may also extend to the offspring of women who are healthy and in shape.”

Du and Son hope their findings will encourage healthy and fit women to continue living an active lifestyle during pregnancy.

“These findings suggest that physical activity during pregnancy for fit women is critical for a newborn’s metabolic health,” Son said. “We think this research could ultimately help address obesity in the United States and other countries.”

Learn more about the study here.