Five-time national champion Alysia Montano received kudos from many for competing in the 800-meter race at the U.S. outdoor track championships — while 34 weeks pregnant.
Montano, who is considered the fastest 800m runner in the country, finished the race in 2 minutes, 32.13 seconds — about 35 seconds slower than her personal best set in 2010, according to the Associated Press.
The AP reported that the 28-year-old was encouraged to continue running throughout her pregnancy by her doctor.
“That took away any fear of what the outside world might think about a woman running during her pregnancy,” the Olympian said, according to the Associated Press. “What I found out mostly was that exercising during pregnancy is actually much better for the mom and the baby. … I did all the things I normally do … I just happened to be pregnant. This is my normal this year.”
Watch KCBS-TV’s report that includes a post-race interview with Montano:
“I know that there’s a lot of stigma and really the word is ignorance behind pregnant women and exercising, but the truth is it’s good for the mom and the baby,” Montano told KCBS.
According to guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists published in 2003, exercise for pregnant women should include both aerobic and resistance training. Types of aerobic activities that the group of doctors lists as acceptable for pregnant women includes “walking, hiking, jogging/running, aerobic dance, swimming, cycling, rowing, cross country skiing, skating, dancing and rope skipping.”
The nonprofit organization of physicians said there is “no data to support the restriction of pregnant women from participating in these activities,” but acknowledged that some can “carry more risk than others.” Activities that involve joint stress “should include cautionary advice for most pregnant women, but evaluated on an individual basis with consideration for individual abilities.”
Most doctors advise women that whatever level of exercise they were used to before becoming pregnant is still likely safe for both mom and baby during pregnancy.
In the past, some women have been criticized for the exercises they’ve done while heavily pregnant.