Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chasing Kids Isn't A Workout

Chasing the kids isn’t equivalent to an actual workout, says Jacqueline Stenson, MSNBC contributor, in a story posted yesterday. The article states that moms of young children may "feel like they are run ragged by the end of the day" but they "may not have engaged in as much physical activity as they think.” My heart is boiling with the collective indignation of mothers the world over.

The report explained a study conducted at the University of Iowa where mothers of children under six wore a device to measure physical activity for a week. Findings showed that most of the meaningful physical activity was of the intentional variety (i.e. sports and exercise) while any incidental activity (like chasing after kids) didn't offer a significant health benefit.

Despite the questionable validity (a whopping 58 subjects in the entire study?!), the researcher’s conclusion is hard to sell. During the writing of this paragraph, I was summoned across the house two times, once to "please close the bathroom door" and once for an official wipe. In fact, most of the day I whisked around shoveling loads of laundry and vacuuming the debris trail of the World's Hairiest Dog. If this doesn't have a significant health benefit, please somebody stop me.

As a runner, I would love for women everywhere to enjoy an hour of early morning quiet, pounding the sleepy streets like I do. But as a mother, I know that exercise often follows flossing to the archive of abandoned resolve. Why would a mother want to exert herself if she is already worn out? If she is, indeed, “run ragged” what conceivable perk does she gain by adding something else? I run because I enjoy it, not because some expert told me to.

Dear authors of guilt-inducing studies:
When you describe your target group as "run ragged" do not then accuse them of not doing enough.

Your Mother

Ladies, do not under any circumstances give yourself fitness credit when keeping up with the children. Run, dance, swim if you like, but adhere to the guidelines. If you don’t, your under-exercised self may drop dead of a massive coronary during pre-school pick-up. It’s a proven fact.


  1. Dear Santa, please bring me a treadmill for Christmas. Apparently my toddler isn't enough.


  2. Nice. Dad's chase after kids least this dad does.

  3. Maybe those researchers can come watch Toby and Charlie for a week and decide what they think then.

  4. If that wasn't exercise last weekend, why was I so tired? Loved your comments on the article.

  5. This is where medical science fails us: in that there is no accurate mental-calorie count that realistically provides for the energy required mentally & spiritually to function as queen Mom. Because technology can't measure this ethereal resource, I have to resort to yogurt.

  6. Um, are you mad?

    I'd love to trade jobs with her for a day. No, really.

  7. HA! I'm obviously a little late to comment, but this is just funny.

  8. I wear a BodyBugg on the weekends when I am at home I burn more calories chasing around my child then during the week when I sit on my but 8 hours a day at work. So I call that story bogus!

  9. It doesn't really matter what you do, as long as you do something that keeps your heart rate at a minimum 140-160bpm for 1 hour each day. For some people that means jogging for 1 hour. But if getting up out of a chair to close a bathroom door or doing laundry does this for you, then I think that's a good sign you are not in shape. Here's a simple test to see if running after a child all day is good exercise: can you run 10 km? If not, then it is not exercise. But hey, mother's know best right?