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Science shows pregnant women are like endurance athletes

Syda Productions | Shutterstock

Here’s another reason to marvel at the miracle of pregnancy and birth …

One of the many well-known side effects of pregnancy is fatigue. But it’s not just a feeling of exhaustion, it’s a stronger sensation, as if you’ve been hit by a bus and cannot move. Obviously the growing baby is using up lots of the mother’s energy, but now science can show the impact of energy levels for a pregnant women — and it turns out that they have endurance levels that match top endurance athletes.

Scientists from Duke University recently carried out a study on athletes competing in the Tour de France, a 3,000 mile race, as well as other top sporting events to determine just how far the human body can go. By recording the resting metabolic rate of these top athletes before and during the race — that’s the calories burned while the body is relaxing — they could conclude that the human body reaches its endurance limits when it uses “2.5 times the body’s resting metabolic rate, or 4,000 calories a day for an average person,” according to the BBC.

Although humans can exceed these levels for short bursts of time, the study concluded that this isn’t sustainable in the long run. So while a marathon runner was able to use energy of 15.6 times their resting metabolic rate, this was only the case for that one event.

However, the study revealed that the energy pregnant women use on average is 2.2 times their resting metabolic rate — and that’s for a long nine-plus months. So while we already marvel at the miracle of pregnancy and birth, we now have something else to be amazed by: a pregnant woman is essentially an endurance athlete!

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