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Mother Knows Best: Get Moving!

Dec. 9, 2013|686 views
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Women today are moving far less than their mothers or grandmothers did. As in; being active. And they’re spending more time being sedentary. As in; not moving. Sitting on the couch. Watching TV. Not. Moving.

You don’t have to be a faithful follower of Dr. Cocó to know too much sitting is not good for a woman’s health. The irony is that in the mid-20th century, mothers were viewed as overworked laborers who needed to be liberated from mindless chores. Manufacturers of labor-saving devices, like vacuum cleaners and automatic dishwashers, cashed in on the societal push to help women spend less time working, and more time in “leisure pursuits.” It sounded good at the time—after all, no one enjoys mind-numbing drudgery—but it backfired. Eliminating housework was supposed to make women’s lives better, not worse. Mounting evidence suggests that all that extra leisure time is causing unintended consequences for women’s health.

Sitting too much—or to put it another way, moving too little throughout the day—is now known to be a major factor contributing to the rise in obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In the mid-1960s, mothers reported working more than 40 hours a week to keep up with their child-rearing and house-maintenance duties. By 2010, that number had dropped by more than 14 hours a week for some women. At the same time, sitting time increased just as dramatically.

What’s worse is this: Scientists worry that women may be affecting not only their own health, but the health of future generations. That’s because we now know that the mother’s environment and personal health can affect her developing fetus during pregnancy and soon after birth. According to this scenario, being sedentary before, during and after pregnancy could set the stage, genetically speaking, for offspring to be more susceptible to the lifestyle diseases that are now at epidemic proportions.

What can you do to prevent your own child from being born with this inter-generational handicap? Get up. Get moving. And spend more time being active than sedentary. It hardly matters what you do, as long as you’re moving rather than sitting for long periods of time. 

Edward Archer, Carl J. Lavie, Samantha M. McDonald, Diana M. Thomas, James R. Hébert, Sharon E. Taverno Ross, Kerry L. McIver, Robert M. Malina, Steven N. Blair. Maternal Inactivity: 45-Year Trends in Mothers’ Use of Time. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2013; 88 (12): 1368 DOI: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2013.09.009


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