New mums can beat the blues and increase their well-being with exercise, says a new study.
In a first study of its kind, 161 postnatal women with no previous depressive symptoms were divided in two groups to test the effect of a physiotherapist-led exercise and education programme on well-being.
The experimental group received an eight-week "Mother and Baby" programme, including specialised exercises provided by a women's health physiotherapist combined with parenting education.
In the "Education Only" group participants received the written educational material.
The participants of both groups were assessed for psychological well-being, depressive symptoms and physical activity levels at baseline, after completing the programme at eight weeks and then four weeks after completion.
Study coordinator Emily Norman from the University of Melbourne (UM) says: "There were significant improvements in well-being scores and depressive symptoms in the 'Mother and Baby' group compared to the 'Education Only' group over the study period."
"This positive effect continued four weeks after completion of the programme," she says.
"The number of women identified as 'at risk' for postnatal depression pre-intervention was reduced by 50 percent in the Mother and Baby group by the end of the intervention."
Senior study author Mary Galea said: "By improving new mothers' well-being, this physiotherapy-based programme has been shown to have a real impact on reducing the risk of PND (post natal depression)."