Exercise keeps the blues away

A new study has found that exercising before and after pregnancy can be good for the mind as well as the body
Women who exercise before and after pregnancy are less likely to develop depression, a new study has found.

Researchers at Penn State University in the USA surveyed 230 women through their pregnancy and after, asking questions about depression symptoms, exercise habits and feelings about weight and appearance, reports the Health Behaviour News Service.

It was found, as expected from previous results, that women who suffered symptoms of depression early in pregnancy also experienced problems later in and after their pregnancy.

However, they also discovered that body image and exercise behaviour play a role in depression, with those who had higher problems also reporting less satisfaction with their appearance during pregnancy.

"Our study supports the psychological benefits of exercise to improve body image and lessen depressive symptoms," said the study's lead author Danielle Symons Downs.

"If someone is depressed and not very happy with how their body looks, especially with regard to the physical changes that occur during pregnancy, it can influence depression later on."

Because women who exercised frequently before their pregnancy experienced less symptoms in the second trimester, Ms Downs recommended pre-pregnancy exercise as a way to avoid depression.

The study is detailed in the August issue of Annals of Behavioural Medicine.

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