Tired, moody and pregnant?
12:0AM, Aug 5th 2013
Exercise may be the answer
Exercising during pregnancy may significantly improve your mood and reduce the risk of anxiety, fatigue and depression, according to a new Canadian study.
Researchers conducted a four-week exercise intervention programme with previously inactive pregnant women to determine whether it would improve their psychological and physical wellbeing.
The results, published in Psychology & Health, clearly showed that even a relatively short-term period of exercise could significantly boost vigor and mood levels during pregnancy.
Participants (who were an average of 22 weeks pregnant) were assessed using mood and anxiety trait profiles at the start and finish of the four-week programme. They were required to complete 30-minute bouts of moderate-to-vigorous exercise each day.
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While negative mood disorders such as postnatal depression are widely recognised, cases of depression, anxiety and fatigue are actually more common during pregnancy than after, according to study authors Anca Gaston and Harry Prapavessis from the University of Western Ontario.
The authors cited the numerous health benefits of the study’s exercise-based approach in light of previous research showing the negative impact on children of depression and anxiety during pregnancy.
Such children tend to have higher levels of cortisol (the ‘stress hormone’) at birth and in adolescence, impaired cognition skills and a great risk of mental and developmental disorders such as autism.
In addition, depression during pregnancy can lead to complications such as insufficient weight gain, increased substance use, premature birth and reduced intention to breastfeed.
While the study focused only the outcome of a short-term intervention, the positive results suggest that exercising during pregnancy improves both physical and psychological health.
In conclusion, the authors stated that due to misconceptions regarding the safety of exercise during pregnancy, “continued efforts to educate women, their families and prenatal health professionals about current guidelines and the benefits and barriers associated with exercise during pregnancy are needed.”
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