Exercising in moderation is healthy – for everyone

By Maddy Major.

What to expect when you’re expecting – backlash from the public for having a fit pregnancy it seems. Photo: Brian Tomlinson (Flickr)

Pregnancy should be a time of joy for expectant mothers, but as a society, we judge how pregnant women should behave. The criticisms have expanded beyond smoking and drinking and into diet and exercise.

Journalist Rebecca Reid wrote an article on Metro that addressed how the public perceive exercising while pregnant. Reid claimed exercising is a social norm until you’re pregnant – then it suddenly becomes everyone’s business.

The stories from the exercising mothers were all the same. The public were ‘horrified’ and deemed them ‘selfish’ for endangering their unborn child. Women who had always kept an active lifestyle were suddenly expected to give it all up for nine months. It was almost like they had acquired a serious injury instead of a growing child.

Famous personal trainer Michelle Bridges experienced backlash for her workout regime while pregnant in 2015. A news.com.au  article slammed Bridges for doing crunches while pregnant as it could result in “lower back pain, urinary incontinence or an ongoing pot belly tummy”.

The article featured comments from women’s health physiotherapist Lyz Evans who warned women not to follow Bridges’ workout. She argued that Bridges had fallen into the “trap of believing crunches made the abdominal muscles stronger”. Evans warned that doing crunches in particular could tear the abdominal lining.

During that same year Australian CrossFit Trainer Revie Schulz stood up for pregnant women in the fitness world. She told her 61,000 Instagram followers that working out while pregnant would become acceptable 10 years from now. Schulz has trained five other pregnant women, all successfully, and she continues to work with health professionals to ensure the utmost care is taken.

The medical advice is to get at least 30 minutes of ‘moderate-intensity’ physical activity most days. Doctors advise to start slow and gradually increase the intensity and to be guided by a doctor, physiotherapist or healthcare professional.

Again, while guidance from medical professionals is a must, there are plenty of exercise ideas and tips online. Fit Pregnancy recommends exercise as a means for pregnant women to battle heartburn and connect with other soon-to-be mothers. They suggest trying anything from yoga to water aerobics, treadmill to stationary bikes. Their website also promotes weight training however it all comes down to moderation.

Pregnant women carry around extra weight, and deal with morning sickness, swollen ankles, wild hormones, back pain and a cocktail of other side effects. It’s their choice to exercise and if they have the all-clear from a medical professional, who are we to stop them? We should be supporting these mothers in their endeavours instead of watching their progress on social media and slamming them with insults.

If anything, their actions prove that their child will grow up in an active and healthy household.

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