Physical activity patterns, depressive symptoms and awareness of cardiovascular risk factors in postpartum women

Clinic of Rehabilitation Medicine, Medical University of Gdańsk, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med 2016;23(3):502–505
Introduction and objectives:
Although physical activity has been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and depression in the general population, little is known about physical patterns and the link with postnatal depressive symptoms and awareness of cardiovascular risk factors in postpartum women. The aim of this study was to examine physical activity patterns and their link to depressive symptoms in postpartum women. The secondary endpoint was the assessment of health awareness in women six months after delivery.

Material and Methods:
Eighty postpartum women with a mean age of 27±4 years (group A – 40 physically active women, group B – 40 women leading a sedentary lifestyle) completed a self-report questionnaire and The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) questionnaire.

In group A, the types of physical activity undertaken in the six-month period after delivery were as follows: 20 women – housework (180 min/session), 18 women – gentle walks (180 min/session), 16 women – group fitness classes (60 min/session), 6 – rapid walking (40 min/session), 3 women – swimming (60 min/session), 2 women – jogging (45 min/session), 1 woman – squash, (45 min/session) 1 – dancing (90 min/session), 1 – tennis (60min/session). Group B declared a sedentary lifestyle and physical activity of less than 30 min a day. The level of health awareness was statistically better in women who were physically active six months after delivery than in women who led a sedentary lifestyle. On a scale with a maximum 55 points, the mean scores were 47.4 in group A and 31.2 in group B (p=0.001). Depressive symptoms were more pronounced in group B. Twenty seven women from group A and three women from group B returned to their pre-pregnancy weight (p=0.04).

Women who were physically active after delivery were characterized by higher health awareness and more frequent return to pre-pregnancy weight. Physical activity may be important for reducing the risk of postnatal depression.

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