The average woman gains about 30 pounds during pregnancy. According to a study published in an the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, an Australian journal, last fall, new moms are less likely than other women of the same age to get the minimum amount of exercise they need for good health.
So the American Council on Exercise asked researchers at the Exercise and Health Program at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse to quantify the fitness benefits of walking with a baby stroller. They were roughly twice as much as had been previously thought.
The researchers recruited 15 female volunteers, age 19 to 41, and had them push a stroller loaded with a 35-pound weight, to simulate a baby, diaper bag, etc., on a treadmill at various speeds and inclines.
The calorie burn was 18 percent higher, on average, when walking with a stroller at 3 mph than walking without a stroller, the researchers found. At a slightly faster pace -- 3.5 mph -- the calorie burn was 20 percent higher.
The heart rates of the test subjects increased by about 12 beats per minute (6 percent) with each 2.5 percent increase in grade, the researchers found.
The intensity of exercise is measured by MET (standard metabolic equivalent). One MET is the amount of oxygen burned when a person is at rest. Activity that burns 3-6 METs is considered "moderate intensity." Anything more than 6 METs is considered "vigorous" intensity.
The Compendium of Physical Activities was developed by Bill Haskell of Stanford University in 1987 for use in epidemiological studies. It lists the estimated METs burned for a host of activities, from bicycling to mowing the lawn.
The Compendium has listed the MET equivalent of pushing a stroller as 2.5, but the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse study indicated it actually is between 4 and 5, said Lisa Bush, co-leader of the study.
Jack Kelly: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1476.