"It's kind of a poorly kept secret that a lot of times after you have a baby you actually come back better than before," - Amy Acuff, six-time outdoor national high jump champion.
I read this article the other day and thought it was a neat biological connection between athletics and motherhood. Amy Acuff, at age 37, is back on the Olympic team and said she feels better than ever. She has a two-year old daughter.
Here she speculates on possible reasons why motherhood could improve athletic performance:
"You're kind of more malleable (after having a baby), whether that's from time off or from your brain changing. But I really found that I was able to, in my jumping, keep track of a lot more body parts and awareness of things kinesthetically. The mission control was maybe a bigger computer and maybe that says something about mothers' ability to multitask."
The multitasking part makes sense, as you would predict that this part of the brain develops more with motherhood.
The athletic part is a surprise to me, but it could have a biological reason. Perhaps reaction time and movement improves as a way to protect the newborn? It certainly seems feasible to me.
All this is interesting because I think the reverse is probably true for men, at least from what I've read. Testosterone drops in men with fatherhood. Anecdotally, you see some male athletes lose their edge after a baby. Of course, it could be correlated to age as well, since fatherhood comes at later ages.
At any rate, I will be watching to see how Amy does at this year's Olympics.