Study Shows Pregnant Women Have the Endurance of Elite Athletes


All pregnant ladies know that being up the duff is like running a marathon. It’s the ultimate endurance test.

But the difference now is, new research supports what us mums already know. We are AMAZING!

According to a study, published in Science Advances, the physical intensity of pregnancy is not dissimilar to running a 40-week marathon. Go us!

The study, which explored the limits of human endurance, analysed elite athletes from all over the world. For example, it looked at athletes that participated in Ironman, the Tour de France and the 3,000-mile Race Across the USA, whereby runners complete six marathons a week for four months. I know, right?

The researchers explored the basal metabolic rates required to function while the body is in rest phase.

According to the study, the most any human can sustain is burning calories at 2.5 times the person’s BMR. This translates to about 4,000 calories a day for the average adult.

The researchers say that pregnant women operate at 2.2 times their BMR — almost the maximum possible, every day throughout their pregnancy. So for many pregnant women, that’s approximately 270 days operating on full speed. A rate much higher than that and pregnancy would be unsustainable, damaging to the body and potentially deadly.

Pregnant woman wearing exercise gear | endurance

So what does all this actually mean?

What it tells us is that there are two groups of people that reach the peak of human endurance – extreme athletes and pregnant women. That really is something, don’t you think?

Especially considering that elite athletes reach their maximum performance during fairly short, high-intensity races. But pregnant women manage to sustain theirs, albeit at a slightly lower rate, throughout their entire pregnancy.

The long and short of it is — short but intense races and nine-month pregnancies similarly push the body to its limits, often burning calories at a rate the body can’t keep up with.

So next time you’re feeling a bit tired, a bit less than alright – put your feet up, my pregnant friend. Heck, ask your partner for a foot massage because you really do deserve it.

Pregnant mamas, you might also be interested in understanding your weird pregnant cravings or reading the results of the latest studies that show it is safe to express during pregnancy.

Avatar of Leanne Philpott

A former Sydneysider, she turned her ideas of a sea change into reality and now lives with her family in beautiful South-West WA. A lover of yoga and travel, like most mums, she’s on a quest to create a better work-life balance. When she’s not pulling socks out from behind the sofa or sponging little hand prints off the walls, she’s in the kitchen trying to dream up exciting lunch box ideas for her three cheeky monkeys.

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