Being pregnant is like running a marathon for 9 months straight says study

Alysia Montaño.
Alysia Montaño.

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 2014, she competed in the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships while in her third trimester, and again in the 2017 edition of the same event at 5 months pregnant. 

Holy Chicago 

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. 

Chat back:

Can you relate?

Share your story with us, and we could publish your mail. 

Sign up for Parent24's newsletters.

Read more:

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Authorities should bring in the army already
11% - 1534 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
48% - 6537 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
38% - 5181 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
4% - 497 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.