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Postpartum Moms Seek Group Exercise

Researchers identify factors to promote exercise among women who have infants and young children.

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Postpartum moms in group fitness class

Postpartum moms of newborns and young children face many challenges to achieve recommended exercise levels. Researchers in Australia conducted a qualitative study to identify what is needed to engage and maintain exercise among women with children up to age 5. Interviews revealed the following important factors to attract these women into exercise programs.

  • a welcoming supportive environment for both mother and child
  • affordable training
  • convenient times and location
  • a focus on building strength and functional fitness
  • a nonjudgmental attitude

Women expressed satisfaction with their bodies and confidence in what their bodies can do after experiencing childbirth. Mothers viewed group exercise as also important for mental health and for building and maintaining friendships. In particular, they sought body appreciation and body-positive environments.

Study authors encourage professionals to create programs that include these factors. The research is reported in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine (2022; doi:10.1007/s12529-022-10062-0).

See also: Improving Support for Postpartum Running

Question of the Month

What, if any, programs are you offering for specific demographic groups? For example, are you offering postpartum exercise for new moms? Are you offering after-school programs for teens? Are you offering functional training for older adults? If yes, do your programs target specific objectives for program participants? Tell us about your experiences.

We want to hear from you! Email executive editor Joy Keller, [email protected].

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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