With the hustle and bustle lifestyle of schlepping kids and groceries while coordinating multiple schedules, many moms fail to meet the daily recommended exercise levels, one study found.
The study, published on November 16, gathered data from 848 women aged 20 to 34 in the U.K. Each wore an accelerometer that sent data to researchers from the University of Southampton to assess.
The results showed that those with children under age four or multiple children did less moderate to vigorous physical activity per day than those with fewer or older children. Professor Keith Godfrey, a co-author of the study from the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre and the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, said the results were “not unexpected.”
“[M]others who have young children or several children engage in less intense physical activity,” said Godfrey. “[T]his is the first study that has quantified the significance of this reduction.”
Women with children over age five completed an average of 26 minutes of daily exercise. However, mothers with younger children under age four only completed an average of 18 minutes per day. Mothers with multiple children, meanwhile, only completed an average of 21 minutes of exercise. All in all, less than half of the mothers participating in the study exercised 150 minutes per week, which is the amount recommended by the CDC.
Beyond weight loss, exercise can promote a better mood, lengthen lifespan, promote heart health, and strengthen bones. Moms in particular are susceptible to osteoporosis later in life because of the calcium demands that occur during pregnancy. One in five women will develop osteoporosis at some point in her life.
Beyond health benefits, exercise can help mothers remain positive and have more energy towards looking after their children. Kim Krueger, owner of Lioness Fitness in Minnesota and mother of two, said that beyond benefits to mood and health goals, exercise has helped her tackle the daily grind.
“It’s amazing how much squatting, bending, twisting, and lifting [are] involved in motherhood. Every day, I see moms carrying car seats [in] their arms like they’re Easter baskets and not small tanks. I see moms at the park, holding an infant in one arm while somehow lifting a toddler into a swing with the other,” wrote Krueger.
“We have to do this stuff, either way,” she added, “but when we’re pre-conditioned by exercise, we have energy left over to chase that toddler around and throw him up in the air.”