Exercise cuts postnatal depression risk
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A new research has shown that a physical
therapy exercise and health education programme can effectively reduce the risk
for postnatal depression (PND) .Postnatal depression is depressive
illness that occurs after having a baby..
Previous studies have shown that general exercise improves mood states in
younger and older women, improves well-being, and leads to a reduction in
depressive symptoms in mothers diagnosed with PND.
However, no studies have evaluated the benefits of group physical therapy
exercise approaches to improve psychological health outcomes of women
"Giving birth involves many changes in a woman's physical, emotional, and social
health," said Mary P. Galea, BAppSci (Physio), Professor of Clinical
Physiotherapy in the School of Physiotherapy at the University of Melbourne,
Victoria, Australia, one of the authors of this study.
"A group exercise programme led by a physical therapist, who is an expert in
improving and restoring motion to people's daily lives, can help mothers who may
be at risk for PND improve their well-being and enable them to better care for
their children," she added.
In this study, 161 English-speaking women who were being discharged from the
postnatal ward of The Angliss Hospital were randomly assigned to an experimental
Mother & Baby (M&B) Programme or an education only (EO) group.
Once a week for 8 weeks the M&B group, comprised of 62 women, undertook 1 hour
of exercise with their babies, facilitated by a women's health physical
therapist, combined with 30 minutes of parenting education delivered by health
Seventy-three women were assigned to the EO group and received only the same
written educational materials. Twenty-six of the women did not receive either of
the allocated interventions.
The results of the study showed that there was significant improvement in
well-being scores and depressive symptoms of the M&B group compared with the EO
group over the study period.
More specifically, there was a significant positive effect on well-being scores
and depressive scores at 8 weeks, and this score was maintained 4 weeks after
completion of the programme.
The number of women identified as at risk for postnatal depression
pre-intervention was reduced by 50 per cent by the end of the intervention.
The study has been published in the March issue of
Physical Therapy, (PTJ) the scientific
journal of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).
- Times of India