Everyone — especially women — knows that being pregnant is no easy task. Suddenly, you have to go to the bathroom every five minutes, you want to eat double the amount of food, and going for a walk is no longer so simple.
Being pregnant is hard, but did you know that it requires the same amount of endurance as extreme sports?
According to a recent study, which was published in Science Advances, there is a certain limit of the amount of energy the human body can burn before completely depleting its energy stores. This was found after researchers studied the metabolic rates of participants competing in endurance-testing events, like the Tour de France and the Race Across the USA.
The limit is nearly the same in endurance athletes and as those of people who are pregnant and lactating.
“We were able to show that in the face of running a marathon a day, your body finds a way to save calories,” Herman Pontzer, an evolutionary anthropologist at Duke and co-author of the paper, told Quartz.
When the body is subjected to something extreme, like running across the country or carrying a small child inside the belly, it finds ways to store energy. Their findings also showed that after long, intense events, athletes were not able to replenish their calories.
In that way, speaking of energy, these high-intensity athletic events were similar to a full pregnancy, in the sense that the body is being pushed to its limits and simply can’t keep up with the amount of calories being burnt.
“You can do really intense amounts of work for a day or so,” Pontzer told CNN. “But if you have to last a week or so, you have to maintain less intensity.”
The study also looked into the number of calories women burn while pregnant and lactating and found that they burn nearly double the amount.
A potential theory, thanks to Pontzer, is that the process of evolution may have caused the metabolic intensity of pregnancy to increase. We are having larger babies now. But also, evolving to be able to carry large babies may have allowed us to endure the rigors of extreme sports.
“There’s no reason it can’t be both,” Pontzer concluded.
So, do you think you could handle the intensity of extreme sports or pregnancy?!
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Source: Cafe Mom