Study says pregnancy is the equivalent of running a 40-week marathon

Data was collected from Race Across The USA, a 120-day, a 3,000-mile race that covers nearly a marathon a day for six days per week.

If Ironman races or marathons haven’t tested your physical core enough, try pregnancy.

Carrying a baby to term was essentially like running a 40-week marathon, according to shocking new research that likened the amount of energy used as the same as top athletes.

Researchers, which published the findings in Science Advances, looked at human endurance in some of the world’s toughest and longest endurance events. Data was collected from Race Across The USA, a 120-day, a 3,000-mile race that covers nearly a marathon a day for six days per week. Other events like triathlons and the Tour de France were included.

When analyzing the data from the events, researchers looked into metabolic rates for participants in the events. For reference, the highest metabolic rate any human can handle is 2.5 times their resting rate.

Pregnant women operate at 2.2 times their resting metabolic rate daily, however, that sustains for far longer than any marathon runner as a normal term usually lasts for a duration of 270 days.

“Every mother who has gone through a pregnancy has experienced that effort themselves,” Duke University professor Herman Pontzer told Today’s Parent. “Pregnancy is the longest-duration, highest-energy-expenditure thing that humans can do. Mothers probably aren’t surprised by this.”


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Kyle Schnitzer|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at kschnitzer@theladders.com.