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Water Fitness Boosts Mood for New Moms

New study shows decrease in postpartum anxiety and depressive symptoms.

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Pregnant women practicing water fitness

If any of your clients are expecting a baby, you may want to recommend that they add pool training and water fitness to their workouts. Moderate-intensity aquatic exercise during pregnancy decreased postpartum anxiety and depressive (PPD) symptoms in mothers, according to findings from a randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine (2021; 10 [11], 2432).

Results from a 2018 study, which included participants in 56 countries, showed that postpartum depression affects about 18% of women after childbirth, making it an international concern that impacts not only the women themselves but also their children and families. While PPD is widespread, it’s often misdiagnosed, and changes in sleep, appetite and libido are attributed to normal disturbances resulting from pregnancy.

Researchers from the Balearic Islands in Spain conducted the current study with 320 women, divided into two groups. One group did 45 minutes of moderate-intensity water exercise three times a week for 5 months, while also receiving usual antenatal care; the second group only had usual care.

Significantly fewer mothers in the water fitness group experienced anxiety or depression symptoms compared with control group members. No statistically significant difference was found between groups for sleep quality at the end of the study. Limitations of the study included failing to quantify possible effects from social interaction and taking only one measurement related to postpartum depression during later months.

See also: Water Workouts Make a Splash

Question of the Month

How is COVID-19 impacting  water fitness or aquatic programs at your facility? For example, are you offering group exercise or private training in the pool? If you’re a “fitpreneur,” are you training some clients in their home pools? Tell us about your experiences and what methods you’re finding most successful.

We want to hear from you! Email executive editor Joy Keller, [email protected].

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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