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Originally published September 11 2009

Exercising During Pregnancy Boosts Baby IQ

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Mothers who exercise more during pregnancy may give birth to children with higher IQs, according to psychologist Richard E. Nisbett, author of Intelligence and How to Get It.

"Children whose mother exercised 30 minutes a day score around eight points higher on standard IQ tests than children whose mothers were more sedentary," he said.

The Western medical profession once believed that exercise after the first trimester of pregnancy might place the fetus at risk, but new research is increasingly discrediting this idea. The British government recommends that women remain active throughout pregnancy, noting that the more active a woman is, the easier it will be for her body to adapt to the experience of pregnancy and the easier her labor will be.

Running, stretching and using light weights are among the exercises that many pregnant women can do easily.

"Exercising large muscle groups increases the growth of neurons and adds to the blood supply of the brain," Nisbett writes. A woman who exercises during pregnancy and also breastfeeds for at least nine months will raise her child's IQ an average of 14 points, he said.

Nisbett says that the way parents interact with their children can also help boost their IQ. He encourages parents to ask their children questions that they already know the answer to, and to explain how they know. This helps children develop the ability to find the answers to their own questions. He also encourages the practice of "anticipation exercises," games in which parents encourage children to predict future events, such as where a submerged animal will emerge from the water.

Research suggests that mothers are the most important influences in their children's intellectual development, he said, but that fathers contribute relatively little.

"The mother is the most important IQ agent here," he said. "In families dominated by a father, there are higher mathematical skills but that's all we contribute, I'm afraid."

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