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Lack of leisure and time to self have been found to be major stressors for mothers. This paper examines perceived stress‐relieving benefits gained from involvement in a 12 week exercise class program by a group of mothers (n = 30, x̄ age = 37.3 years). Qualitative data indicated that exercise classes had the capacity to reduce perceived stress levels. The exercising mothers reported greater feelings of well‐being mainly due to gaining a space of their own, time‐out from busy schedules and the burden of childcare, and the feeling of doing something to improve their physical appearance. The negative or constraining aspects of exercise class participation included normalisation and self examination of women's bodies, and self‐surveillance rather than freedom of choice. The conclusions of this paper suggest that exercise classes can provide one avenue for mothers to take more control over their own health and lifestyle.

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Journal Article

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