Are Mommy Stroller Workouts Effective?

Observing the flushed faces of most mothers while they push their babies in strollers, it appears that they are getting a serious workout. This study was performed on a group of 15 female volunteers to assess the effect of pushing baby strollers. The calories burned and the oxygen exhaled were a few factors that were determined. It was observed that walking, along with pushing a stroller helped burn more calories than merely walking. Thus, this routine for the mothers could be considered an effective workout.

Mothers with infants and young children are rarely able to find the time to exercise, as compared to those without children. Generally women gain  30 lbs. + during pregnancy. After childbirth, it is difficult for them to shed the gained weight without exercise. This weight gain can also lead to other ill effects. Flushing of the face signifies either exertion or an emotional outburst. Flushed faces during pushing baby strollers make it clear that most mothers are getting a good workout. It was found that many mothers don’t usually exercise but would push their baby strollers. This study was aimed quantifying the fitness benefits of walking when pushing a baby stroller.

* In this study, 15 female volunteers, between 19 and 41 years, participated.
* Baseline test on a treadmill was performed prior to the study, measuring the heart rate and oxygen consumption. A rating of the exertion was taken from each subject.
* The actual test consisted of treadmill sessions at 3 mph, performed with a stroller weighing 35 lbs. The incline was varied from an initial flat to a 2.5 percent, 5 percent and 7.5 percent grade every four minutes during the total 20-minute session.
* The next session consisted of the same activity, but the walking speed was increased to 3.5 mph. As earlier, the heart rate and oxygen consumption were measured.

* It was noted that more calories were burned when walking while pushing a stroller than when walking alone.
* More calories were burned and the exercises were more intense while walking with the strollers, both being approximately 18 percent and 20 percent higher than when walking without a stroller at 3 mph and 3.5 mph, respectively.
* The calories burned (372 to 444 calories per hour) while pushing a stroller at 3.5 mph was similar to the calorie reduction achieved mowing the lawn or riding a bike at 10 mph.

Shortcomings/Next steps
Walking uphill with the stroller resulted in higher intensity of workout and the MET value for this (a standard gauge of assessing workout intensity) was estimated to be 2.5. But this study found the value to be between 4 and 5, which was very high. The author suggests that “a new mom should not underestimate the value of taking her child out for a stroll or the necessity of taking care of her own health and fitness.”

Stroller walking is a great activity that will allow mothers to get in shape while bonding with their child and perhaps meeting other women who are dealing with the same challenges in terms of caring for a newborn. Accounting for heart rates and oxygen consumption, pushing a stroller on level ground at 3.5 mph was taken to be one of the best methods for this. While buying a stroller, care should be taken to select a stroller with three fixed wheels, with a minimal of 16-inch diameter each. Besides considering the use of strollers as exercise tools, it is imperative to consider the safety of the baby. Padded five-point safety harness and a reclining seat are mandatory elements to be considered when buying a stroller for babies who are six months of age or younger.

For More Information:
New ACE Research Reveals Calorie Burn and Body Benefits of Walking with a Baby Stroller
Publication Journal: ACE Fitness Matters, December 2007
By Mark Anders

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.