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Active BodiesA History of Women’s Physical Education in Twentieth-Century America$
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Martha H. Verbrugge

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195168792

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195168792.001.0001

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Exercising Caution

Exercising Caution

Physical Activity and Reproductive Health, 1940–2005

(p.232) 9 Exercising Caution
Active Bodies

Martha H. Verbrugge

Oxford University Press

Chapter 9 (the counterpart to Chapter 3) examines major shifts in the debate over female exercise and reproductive health during the second half of the twentieth century. Following a period of relative calm, biomedical experts became alarmed in the 1970s and 1980s about various clinical and asymptomatic reproductive disorders and other problems among active girls and women. During the 1990s and early 2000s, this concern coalesced around the newly-named “Female Athlete Triad”—a “collective syndrome” of amenorrhea, disordered eating, and premature osteroporosis. Chapter 9 summarizes key changes in the science of exercise and reproductive health as well as the efforts of diverse professions to control if, when, how much, and in what way girls and women would exercise. Biomedical researchers and specialists gradually dominated the interpretation, diagnosis, and treatment of female reproductive “dysfunction.” As the clinic and laboratory gained authority over active female bodies, physical educators and coaches had to redefine their roles.

Keywords:   amenorrhea, athletic amenorrhea, reproductive health, female Athlete Triad, exercise science

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