Did you ever think about how your mother or grandmother spent their days when their children were young? Apparently it was quite different than it is today, especially in terms of physical activity. A Mayo Clinic study compared the activity levels of mothers of young children and mothers of older children in 1965 to that of mothers in 2010. The study measured the time allocated to physical activity, including housework, child care, laundry, food preparation, post meal cleanup, and exercise, and the time spent in sedentary activities such as driving and using screen based media — and the results will totally surprise you.
Results showed a marked decrease in physical activity: Today’s moms to younger children spend 13.9 hours per week less on physical activity and 5.7 hours per week more on sedentary activities. Modern mothers of older children are sedentary 7 hours per week more than their 1965 counterparts were, and engage in physical activity 11.1 hours per week less. Nearly two hours a day less in physical activity results in a decrease of 1200- 1500 calories per week burned.
These results don’t imply that today’s moms are lazy, but rather are a reflection how maternal roles have changed. More mothers work outside the home today than in 1965, increasing time spent in a car and at a desk and decreasing time spent vacuuming and mopping the floors. Technological advancements also make life easier and less physically demanding, and make it easier to spend more time sitting.
The implications to modern mothers’ health is significant and may help explain the increased incidence of health problems associated with being overweight or obese. In order to counteract the trend and maintain a healthy balance, today’s mom has to schedule in physical activity that was once part of her regular day. Make time for a morning walk. Take the stairs whenever you can. Fit in a Zumba class a couple of times a week. Do an online fitness class after your kids are in bed.
Even with regular exercise, it’s hard to make up a deficit of two hours per day, so the modern mom also has to be more calorie-conscious. Limiting fat and sugar intake and eating 3-5 servings per day of veggies can help maintain a diet that is in balance with today’s mothers’ lives.
How do you keep active with the kids?