A new study says working out during pregnancy will reduce the chances of unborn baby developing neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's, later in life.
German researchers found that mice bred to develop a neurodegenerative disease roughly equivalent to Alzheimer's disease showed fewer signs of the disease and greater brain plasticity later in life when their mothers exercised regularly than those whose mothers did not exercise.
"This research provides an experimental rationale for the effects of beneficial behavioral stimuli experienced by the pregnant mother affecting the disease status of an as yet-unborn child," said Kathy Keyvani, M.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Institute of Pathology and Neuropathology at the University Hospital Essen in Essen, Germany.
"Epigenetic alterations (alterations in gene and protein expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence) provide a most probable mechanism by which mothers could have transferred their own behavioral experience to their progeny," she said.
"A better understanding of the underlying pathways may provide novel treatment and/or prevention strategies for Alzheimer's disease and bring more insight into the fascinating link between brain and behavior," she added.
The study is published online in The FASEB Journal.