Exercise after birth could prevent postpartum depressison

By Sheryl Kay • Published: July 21st, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Bringing home a new baby is a time filled with wonder and amazement for most, even if it’s a bit daunting. With all the changes that come with parenthood, it’s not unusual for moms get a simple case of the baby blues. But some women become more irritable and experience headaches or have trouble sleeping, too.

For other new moms, hormone changes coupled with real lifestyle transformations leave them feeling overwhelmed, occasionally even suicidal. Postpartum depression affects up to thirteen percent of all new mothers throughout the world, and doctors now believe they have identified one easy way to help stem the tide of this debilitating illness.

In a study recently published in the journal Physical Therapy, one hundred and sixty one women who had just given birth were evaluated for possible depression and to gauge how exercise might affect those feelings.

The women were divided into two groups. The first were put into an eight-week program that included specialized exercises provided by a women’s health physiotherapist, combined with parenting education. The second group of women received written informative materials only.

After the eight weeks were over, both groups were evaluated for emotional health. The women who exercised showed improvement in well-being and had fewer symptoms of depression compared with the education-only group. Even four weeks after completion of the study, participants in the exercise group were still reporting far fewer incidences of depression.

So what’s the skinny? The researchers say taking part in a physiotherapy program after birth can reduce a new mother’s risk of postpartum depression by fifty percent.

Now that’s a good reason to exercise.