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  • Mothers Today Less Physically Active Than 1960s Moms

    Today's mothers are spending an average of 12.5 hours less per week on physical activity (PA) than mothers in the 1960s—a difference that researchers are describing as a "significant reallocation" of time to sedentary activities that could contribute to a potential public health crisis.

    The findings, published in the December Mayo Clinic Proceedings, examined data contained in the American Heritage Time and Use Study, an activity log program that has captured more than 50,000 diary days and 90 behavioral categories from mothers beginning in 1965.

    Researchers divided the mothers into 2 groups—those with children between the ages of 5 and 18 (mothers with older children or MOC), and those with children younger than 5 (mothers with younger children, MYC)—and reviewed activity logs over a 45-year period, 1965–2010.What they found, according to the authors, was alarming:

    • Weekly hours of PA in mothers of older children dropped from 32 to 20.9 hours per week, with a 7 hour-per-week rise in sedentary activity (SED) to 24.7 hours a week.
    • For mothers with younger children, the decrease in PA was even more significant, with weekly PA dropping from 43.6 hours per week to 29.7. The increase in SED was slightly less than the MOC group, up by 5.7 hours per week to a 22.7 hour-per-week average.
    • Energy expenditure decreased for both groups, with the MOC group showing a 1,238 drop in weekly calories burned and the MYC group burning 1,572 fewer calories per week. To offset this decrease and maintain their weight, mothers in the MOC group would need to consume 178 fewer calories per day than mothers in the 1960s, the researchers estimated; MYC would need to consume 225 fewer daily calories.
    • Stay-at-home mothers reported almost 2 times the decrease in physical activity as working mothers and higher rates of sedentary activity.

    Researchers attributed most of the difference to a significant rise in "screen-based media use" and wrote that "with each passing generation, mothers have become increasingly physically inactive, sedentary, and obese, thereby potentially predisposing children to an increased risk of inactivity, adiposity, and chronic [non-communicable diseases]."

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