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I've run an ultra marathon and still nothing compares to the exhaustion I feel at the end of a day spent keeping up with my two kids. Now science explains why: Children's fitness levels are on par with well-trained adult endurance athletes.


According to a 2018 study published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, the metabolic and fatigue profiles of 8 to 12 year old boys were far superior to those of untrained adults when tested with rigorous physical activity. They could also rebound quicker due to efficient heart-rate recovery and the ability to remove blood lactate. In fact, not even national-level endurance athletes were as good at recovering.

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That should provide some comfort to wiped-out parents, the researchers say. "We found the children used more of their aerobic metabolism and were therefore less tired during the high-intensity physical activities," says the study's co-author Sébastien Ratel, Associate Professor in Exercise Physiology at the Université Clermont Auvergne in France. "This may explain why children seem to have the ability to play and play and play, long after adults have become tired."

For the study, the researchers tested the boys, untrained adults and endurance athletes on a series of cycling tasks. They were all assessed for their aerobic and anaerobic efficiency as well as their bodies' abilities to recover. Not surprisingly, the children outperformed the untrained adults across the board and even rivaled the top-tier athletes.

The researchers say the findings do lend themselves to further research on muscular changes and disease risk as we age. "Our research indicates that aerobic fitness, at least at the muscle level, decreases significantly as children move into adulthood—which is around the time increases in diseases such as diabetes occur," Ratel says. "At least, our results might provide motivation for practitioners to maintain muscle fitness as children grow up; it seems that being a child might be healthy for us."

As for the naturally fit kids, does this mean we should see more of them on the starting lines of marathons? Not so much. In fact, the researchers say that because the endurance levels of kids seem to already be so good, it may be best for them to focus most of their sports training on the development of skills, speeds and muscle strength. This, Ratel says, "may help to optimize physical training in children, so that they perform better and enjoy sports more."

For the rest of us, that means the opportunity to catch our breath from the sidelines every now and then.

[A version of this post was originally published on April 24, 2018.]

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Our babies come out as beautiful, soft and natural as can be—shouldn't their clothes follow suit?

Here are nine of our favorite organic kids clothing brands that prove safe fabrics + stylish designs are a natural fit.

Estella

A brick and mortar store in Manhattan that opened in 2002, Estella is NYC's go-to shop for luxury baby gifts—from sweet-as-pie organic clothing to eco-friendly toys.

L'ovedbaby

@lovedbaby

We l'oved this collection from the moment we laid eyes on it. (See what we did there 🤣) Free of things harsh added chemicals, dangerous flame retardants, and harmful dyes, this collection is 100% organic and 100% gorgeous. We especially adore their soft, footed rompers, comfy cotton joggers, and newborn-friendly kimono bodysuits.

Looking to stock up? Don't miss Big-Find Thursday every week on their site—a 24-hour flash sale that happens Thursdays at 9 a.m. PST and features a different body style, collection, and discount every week!

Hanna Andersson

@happyhannas

One of our all-time favorite brands for durability, style, + customer service, Hanna Andersson doesn't disappoint in the organic department, either. From an aww-inducing organic baby layette collection all the way to their iconic pajamas, there are so many organic styles to swoon over from this beloved brand. And we swear their pajamas are magic—they seem to grow with your little one, fitting season after season!

Monica + Andy

@monicaandandy

The fabric you first snuggle your baby in matters. Monica + Andy's (gorgeous) collection is designed for moms and babies by moms with babies, and we love it all because it's made of super-soft GOTS-certified organic cotton that's free of chemicals, lead, and phthalates. Newborn pieces feature thoughtful details like fold-over mittens and feet.

Finn + Emma

@finnandemma

"Here boring designs and toxic chemicals are a thing of the past while modern colors, fresh prints and heirloom quality construction are abundant." We couldn't agree more. Made from 100% organic cotton, eco friendly dyes, and in fair trade settings, we love this modern collection's mix of style + sustainability.

We especially love the Basics Collection, an assortment of incredibly soft, beautiful apparel + accessories including bodysuits, zip footies, pants, hats, and bibs, all available in a gender-neutral color palette that can work together to create multiple outfit combinations. The pieces are perfect for monochrome looks or for mixing with prints for a more modern style.

SoftBaby

@littleaddigrey for @softbaby_clothes

You'll come for SoftBaby's organic fabrics, but you'll stay for their adorable assortment of prints. From woodland foxes to urban pugs, there's no limit to their assortment (meaning you'll even be able to find something for the new mama who's hard to shop for). Plus, the name says it all--these suckers are soft. Get ready for some serious cuddle time.

Gap Baby

@gapkids

Organic may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Gap, but this popular brand actually carries a wide variety of organic (and adorable) baby + toddler clothes. From newborn layette basics to toddler sleepwear—and more—there's something for everyone in this collection. Everything is 100% cotton, super soft + cozy, and perfect for eco-conscious mamas.

Winter Water Factory

@winterwaterfactory

Certified organic cotton with Brooklyn-based swagger? Be still our hearts. Winter Water Factory features screen-printed textiles in bold designs you'll want to show off (get ready for some major Instagram likes). And the husband-and-wife co-founders keep sustainability at the forefront of their brand, meaning you can feel good about your purchase--and what you're putting on your baby.

The company makes everything from kids' clothes to crib sheets (all made in the USA). For even more cuteness, pair their signature rompers with a hat or bonnet.

Under the Nile

@underthenile

Under the Nile has been making organic baby clothes since before it was cool. Seriously, they were the first baby clothing company in the USA to be certified by The Global Organic Textile Standard. They've kept up that legacy of high standards by growing their Egyptian cotton on a biodynamic farm without the use of pesticides or insecticides, and all of their prints are made with metal-free colors and no chemical finishes.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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