When we think of the very peak of physical fitness and resilience, we think dramatic marathon finishes or questionably sane climbers summiting Mount Everest (with all digits intact, if lucky) but scientist are now saying that these stereotypes of physical stamina need to be replaced by the image of a pregnant woman instead.
Compiling data from the 23-day long annual Tour de France and the 140-day long Race Across the USA, Duke University researchers wanted to pinpoint "maximal human energy expenditure," and cross-referencing their findings with more commonplace "long-duration, energy-intensive activities" such as pregnancy, the scientist concluded that pregnant women reign supreme when talking human endurance.
Also see: Mother of quadruplets on her rare pregnancy: ‘I am genuinely over the moon’
Researchers looked at the basal metabolic rate (BMR) - the number of calories used while the body is at rest - of athletes before, during and after races, and compared these with recorded BMR data of pregnant women.
They deduced that the "energy supply limit in humans" is 2.5 times a person's metabolic scope and given that the pregnant body functions at 2.2 times its BMR, pregnant women are essentially an example of the human body at the peak of performance.
Also see: Fierce: pregnant Serena Williams, the Ice Tiger, and the marathon runner who delivered her baby after the finish line
Did you compete in a sporting event while pregnant? Share your story with us, and we could publish your mail.
"Pregnancy is the most energetically expensive activity the human body can maintain for nine months," study co-author and Duke University's Associate Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology and Global Health Herman Pontzer said via the New York Post, jokingly adding that the study will come as no surprise to anyone who's ever carried and birthed a baby.
"I don’t think any mother is surprised to learn how difficult pregnancy is! I’ve had a few friends — including my wife — tell me it was good to see pregnancy recognised as extremely challenging."
So now that science has finally caught up with what mothers have always known, we're sure you'll be looking at these pregnant athletes with brand new eyes.
Grand slam mama
While pregnant with her first child Alexis Olympia, Serena famously claimed her 23rd Grand Slam singles title.
Twice a (pregnant) lady
Runner Alysia Montaño is famous for, among other things, competing while pregnant.
In 2011, marathoner Amber Miller finished the annual Chicago Marathon just in time to give birth to her second child.
The athlete was 38-weeks pregnant and was given the green light before participating in the 42.2km race. The fit mom even beat her own husband's time by 19 minutes, before giving birth a few hours later.
Can you relate?
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