Research from the University of Melbourne is showing that participating in a specialized exercise program can help new moms prevent postpartum depression. As reported by Medical News Today, 161 women were randomized to be part of an eight-week program consisting of physiotherapist-led exercise and parenting education or to receive written educational materials only. By the end of the study, the number of women initially identified as "at risk" for postpartum depression in the first group was reduced by 50 percent.
Moms in the exercise group also showed "significant improvements" in well-being scores and depressive symptoms during the study period, and researchers found these positive effects continued four weeks after the program.
The results weren't terribly surprising to me - I took post-baby exercise classes with both my daughters and experienced firsthand the mental-health benefits - but I was surprised to hear this was the first study to formally assess an exercise program's effect on new mothers. The lead author said more research is needed to determine the long-term effects of exercise, but I still hope these early findings will encourage new moms to get up and get moving.
Photo by Ed Yourdon