Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Font Size
A
A
A

Does Parenthood Hurt Your Health?

Parents Exercise Less, Young Moms Eat More Than Women Without Children, Study Finds

Tracking Health Habits in New Parents continued...

Moms ate about 400 more calories each day than women without children. Those additional calories came from a higher intake of sugar-sweetened drinks, like sodas or drink mixes, and saturated fat. Moms weighed more than childless women, too, averaging about 1 point higher on the body mass index.

When researchers looked at exercise, parents lagged behind people without children.

Moms fell short on both total physical activity and moderate-to-vigorous exercise, the kind that’s especially good for heart health, while dads reported getting about the same total physical activity as men who weren’t parents, but doing less moderate-to-vigorous activities.

Specifically, moms reported getting about 50 fewer minutes, and dads got 93 fewer minutes, of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each week compared to people without children.

How to Get Back on Track

Experts say new parents who are thrown off balance by family demands shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help, because poor health habits can affect children and adults by creating what Francis calls an “obesigenic environment” at home.

“It sets them up on this path for creating these behaviors that are sustained and transferred from one generation to another,” she says.

Asking extended family members or friends to watch the kids for an hour can give harried parents enough time to squeeze in missed workouts or to catch up on sleep.

It can also help to reframe or redefine what you think of as exercise, Berge says.

“Instead of thinking of physical activity as something you have to do in the gym or on your own, think of it as something like a family level thing where you can walk to the park together, play tag together,” Berge says. “Encompass it as part of your day instead of thinking of it, as we all do, that it has to be individual, at the gym.”

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

family walking on the beach
Slideshow
two boys in a swing
Article
 
mistakes_parents_make_with_toddlers_2.jpg
Article
woman with cleaning products
Slideshow
 
mother and daughter talking
Tool
child brushing his teeth
Slideshow
 
Sipping hot tea
Slideshow
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Video
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
Article
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
 
tissue box
Quiz
Child with adhd
Slideshow