Skip the Super Bowl Workout; Try Motherhood Instead

NFL training campThere's a lot of Super Bowl trash talk going on. So let's heap on some more! When it comes to who works out harder, moms have it hands down over football players.

Here at The Stir we were willing to bet a typical day for the football elite has nothing on a typical day for a mother in America. Neither the Steelers nor the Packers were issuing invitations to work out this week (they didn't know what they were missing!), so The Stir called on three real moms and went for the closest thing, EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp for the Wii. The game was "developed in collaboration with NFL strength and conditioning coaches," making it comparable to the realities of the NFL, and we pulled calorie counts for average mom activities from the Healthy Weight Forum Calorie Calculator.


The Players:

  • Beret, stay-at-home mom to a 9-year-old and a 5-year-old and self-confessed running junkie.
  • Amanda, stay-at-home mom to 5-year-old, 3 1/2-year-old, and 2-year-old boys and former high school star athlete who has maintained a trim figure into her 30s
  • Jeanne (your Stir blogger), work-at-home mom to a 5-year-old who has gained 20 pounds in the past year but has just started to get back into working out with regular Zumba classes.

NFL Training camp

Beret throwing a pass

Game On:

We all went for the game's "workout generator" to put us on an even playing field despite our varied fitness levels and to keep us from cherry-picking the easy stuff. We cut the workouts to an estimated 15 minutes apiece just to get a taste -- good thing, because they all ran over, and Amanda's 3 1/2-year-old and 2-year-old boys started to get antsy and hungry. Which led us to:

  • Conclusion #1: Football players do not have to tote a big bag stocked with pretzels and toy cars everywhere they go. Extra calories burned by moms carrying a 15-pound bag on her shoulder: 38 for every 10 minutes bag is carried.

You can guess how much "working out" actually happened. It took two moms to corral the two boys so the third mom could work out without accidentally tackling a toddler who just wanted to see the football men on TV. Next time the NFL coaches need tips on how to catch a ball in the air with a 2-year-old clamped to your knee, Amanda's your girl.

  • Conclusion #2: Here's betting the players never have a hard time hearing the coach barking orders over: "Hey Collin, want to touch a cat? Hey, Collin, where's your motorcycle? Hey Collin, don't touch the dog's water bowl!" Extra calories burned by moms chasing kids around room: 77 for every 10 minutes.

When the boys disappeared into my daughter's room to play, the other two moms were forced upstairs to investigate while I practiced not sliding on my wood floors, aka doing "foot fires" (boys, I owe you a big box of cookies -- no one saw me fall into the craft storage). 

  • Conclusion #3: Forget foot fires, moms do steps all day long. Extra calories burned lugging laundry up and down the stairs with a small child in your other arm: 26 in one (3-minute) climb of the stairs.
  • Conclusion # 4: Football players don't have to navigate through your 5-year-old's craft boxes or their LEGOs or their dolly strollers on a practice field, do they? Extra calories burned by moms doing hurdles: 21 in 2 minutes.

Total game calories burned in 25 minutes by one mom using the game: 108

Total calories burned by one woman being a mom in 25 minutes: 162

The Score:

Multiply this 25 minutes by the time of a training camp, and it's still just a few hours of work, we decided. Motherhood is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. No wonder the average weight of a football player is 248 pounds while we can carry a kid and a full bag of dog food out of the grocery store without any help.

Straight game review: If we had done a full hour's worth without kids around, we would have gotten some good exercise. But not as good as real life:

  • Football is about strength and conditioning. You need to force your way via brute strength through one play with 25 to 30 pounds of equipment on you. Then you get a break (literally: the game would tell us, "Go take a water break").
  • Motherhood is a battle of endurance. There are no breaks. We have little sleep, crappy nutrition, and we lug 25-pound 6-month-olds in one arm, laundry in the other, up and down flights of stairs. And, as Beret says, we don't even get a playbook to tell us how it's done.

So it doesn't matter who takes home the trophy on Super Bowl Sunday. We already won! Who would you say has it tougher?


Images via Jeanne Sager

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