What if something as simple as signing up for text-messages could help you increase your fitness activity AND lose pregnancy weight? This was what an Australian research group sought out to evaluate with their “MobileMums” program. These results aren’t that new (just new to me) but I still think the concept is interesting and worth a closer look. So, let’s check it out…
Who HASN’T struggled with post-pregnancy weight loss?
Studies suggest new moms gain on average 1-6 pounds from the time they conceive to 1yr after their baby is born. Toss in some other factors and it trends up. In fact, one study in Dutch women found that 20% of women were gaining 11 pounds or more! I’m not Dutch, but at least I know I’ve got company in my post-pregnancy journey!
MobileMums – what is text-based physical intervention?
Basically, this is a series of customized SMS messages (“text messages”) sent to participants that consist of reminders to work out, goal setting messages, alerts for group workouts and social support messages. Texts are sent out based on feedback from participants. For example, if someone completes two workouts on schedule, they might get a confirmatory message (“great job, try 2 do it again this week!”), whereas if they miss one they might get a reminder message (“don’t forget to pack shoes for your run tomorrow!”.
Medical text-based interventions have been gaining in popularity, though the jury seems to be out as to just how useful this texting medicine strategy could be. Check out this clip from the UK to see how they are using texts to help people stop smoking.
But, can texts help new moms lose weight?!?!
MobileMums in the trenches
The goal was to see if women who received text-based interventions worked out more frequently than people who were not enrolled. To evaluate this, a group of 88 women who had given birth in the last 12 months AND were relatively inactive were assigned to either a “text” group or a “non-text” group. Couple key conclusions:
- “Text” recipients worked out at a significantly greater frequency than the “non-text” group.
- “Text” recipients worked out for longer durations than the “non-text” group (but not significantly more).
- Over twelve weeks, the “text” group’s participation fell. my hunch is they’re getting sick of text-messages?
MobileMums – texting CAN help you exercise more, not so sure about the post-pregnancy weight
From this study, it DOES look like texting can help you become more active, but it’s no magic bullet for weight loss which doesn’t seem to even be mentioned much here (maybe a different publication?). I’ll optimistically assume people working out more lose more weight but that seems pretty dangerous to be honest. It seems to be a creative way to help rally support but over the long haul might wear off – the effects here waned after 3 months in the program. I think part of this is mom’s learning to juggle more things and de-prioritizing themselves.
So what’s a mum to do if she wants to lose weight?? Will I be signing up for text-based interventions? Not likely for now, but part of the success of things like Weight Watchers seems to be the interaction with others (group support) so I don’t want to downplay the potential of this particular tool. Text-based interventions probably have a little more room to mature. Until then I’m stuck with the reminder on my calendar.