By Cara Murez Health Day Reporter
FRIDAY 18 Nov. 2022 (HealthDay News) — Something — or, more accurately, someone — may be standing between moms and regular exercise: their kids.
New research from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton in the UK suggests that less than half of mothers met the recommended activity levels, a number even lower when the children were younger or had more than one.
“It may not be unexpected that mothers who have young children or multiple children are less physically active, but this is the first study to quantify the significance of this reduction,” said study co-author Keith Godfrey. He is Professor of Epidemiology and Human Development at the Lifecourse Epidemiology Center of the Medical Research Council (MRC) in Southampton.
“More needs to be done by local government planners and leisure providers to support mothers in physical activity,” Godfrey said in a university press release.
For the study, the team analyzed data from 848 women who took part in the UK Southampton Women’s Survey.
The women were between 20 and 34 years old and were recruited between 1998 and 2002. The researchers followed them up over the years.
The study found that women with school-aged children engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity for an average of about 26 minutes daily. For mothers with children aged 4 and under, that was an average of 18 minutes per day.
Having a second or more children changed the average for the mothers of school-aged children, who got about 21 minutes of physical activity daily.
Mothers with multiple children under age 5 did not fit the mold and engaged in more light-intensity activities than mothers with school-aged children, the researchers found.
Regardless of whether their children were of school age or younger, less than 50% of mothers got the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
“When you have small children, your parental responsibilities can take up everything, and it is often difficult to find the time to be active outside of the time you spend with your children. Exercise is therefore often one of the first things to fall by the wayside, which is why most of the physical activities mothers can do seem to be of a lower intensity,” says Dr. Kathryn Hesketh, from the MRC epidemiology unit at the University of Cambridge.
Mothers manage more physical activity when their children start school, Hesketh added.
“There are a number of possible reasons why this may be the case, including more opportunities to participate in higher-intensity activities with their children, you may return to an active commute, or feel more comfortable spending time use to be active alone,” Hesketh suggested.
Rachel Simpson, a PhD student in the MRC’s division of epidemiology, pointed out that while the demands of motherhood can make it difficult to find extra time, there are clear benefits — both short and long term — to physical activity. especially that which raises your heart rate.
“We need to come up with ways not only to encourage mothers, but to make it as easy as possible for busy mothers, especially those with younger children, to do more vigorous physical activity,” Simpson said.
The findings were published online Nov. 16 in the journal PLOS ONE.
SOURCE: University of Cambridge, press release, November 16, 2022
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