A minimum amount of moderate exercise can provide huge relief to pregnant women struggling with fatigue, anxiety and even depression.
Researchers from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, found that a 4-week moderate exercise program helped pregnant women (average age 30) to achieve significant reductions in depression, anger, tension, fatigue and anxiety, while also gaining significant increases in vigor. The women wore accelerometers to confirm that they accumulated at least four 30-minute bouts of moderate-intensity exercise each week.
Limitations of the study included the facts that women volunteered to participate in the study and that most of the women were Caucasian, educated and middle class.
Lead study author Anca Gaston, PhD, adjunct assistant professor of kinesiology at UWO, told IDEA Fitness Journal, “Although we’ve known for some time that exercise improves mood in the general population, there haven’t been too many studies which have focused on pregnancy. This study confirms that not only does exercise improve mood and energy during pregnancy, but it does so in as little as 4 weeks, and all that’s necessary is four 30-minute walks per week. This is an exciting finding, since that is a very achievable goal for many women.”
Future studies should explore whether an even longer intervention would lead to even more benefits for mood; whether the type of exercise performed matters; and whether results vary with stage of pregnancy.
The study is available in Psychology & Health (2013; doi: 10.1080/08870446.2013.809084).