Having children leads to fewer daily steps taken for moms, study finds

There was also a change in men

It can be hard to get your steps in each day, but a new study finds that expanding your family can make it that much harder, particularly for women.

Research conducted at Finland research university, University of Jyväskylä, found that the birth of a first child leads the steps women take to drastically decline. The study was done by the Faculty of Sports & Health Sciences and the findings were published online in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health before being announced in a Wednesday news release.

Conducted on 396 men and 655 women, researchers measured steps taken on a pedometer on weekdays and weekend days.

The change in steps is not permanent, however. Women’s steps gradually increase as children grow up. Men were also affected by expanding their families, although a child’s birth didn’t have a significant effect on men’s steps statistics-wise.

“With the birth of both the first and second child, the trend of aerobic steps declined in men,” postdoctoral researcher Kasper Salin said in the news release. “However, with the birth of the second child, the number of everyday steps began to rise. This can be explained by, for example, a decrease in exercise hobbies.”

Aerobic steps are considered steps that are at least 10 minutes long with at least 60 steps taken per minute.

“Steps can accumulate many times during the day if we just allow,” Salin explained. “To increase your number of steps, you may not have to exercise separately each day. Instead, attention should be paid to everyday choices and, for example, choose stairs instead of the elevator or walk to the store instead of driving.”

It wasn’t only having children that impacted the general steps people take every day. The study reviewed how where you live plays a role.

Women’s overall steps and everyday steps were decreased when they moved out of the city and into rural areas, yet a similar effect was not seen in men. Men who permanently lived in rural areas had lower aerobic steps and total steps compared to men who permanently dwelled in urban areas.

Employment also reduced aerobic steps in women, researchers discovered.

“Work provides a rhythm for the day and this can influence how, for example, it is possible to participate in various scheduled hobbies,” Salin said. “However, it should be noted that the change in total steps was not statistically significant among the employed, as the change in everyday steps was correspondingly positive for those who were employed.”