Exercise Is A Good Coping Strategy, But Not Enough To Quell Perinatal Depression

A recent article that described activities taking place at a playground in Daytona Beach, Florida brought up a subject that I believe worthy of discussion. With strollers and babes in tow, a group of new mothers stretched, jumped, and jogged as if they were school kids at recess.

I applaud exercise for a variety of reasons, but mainly because it is a good coping strategy to help with mood symptoms that can occur with postpartum depression and anxiety disorders (PMAD).

The group exercise can also provide other benefits in decreasing the isolation that many new moms experience. However in cases of perinatal illness, while this recreation is certainly helpful, it’s not enough. To speed recovery, women experiencing symptoms of PMAD must still receive treatment from a mental health specialist.

Having said that, I’d like to repeat some of the health benefits that postpartum exercise can bring. The list below has been provided by the Mayo Clinic, and is repeated in the Florida article. Additionally, I regularly suggest these advantages in my therapy practice.

Regular exercise can help:
-Relieve stress,
-Promote healthy weight loss,
-Improve cardiovascular fitness,
-Restore muscle strength and tone,
-Condition abdominal muscles,
-Boost energy levels, and
-Improve mood.

Jenny Wischmeier is the aerobic instructor cited in the online article. She uses Fit4Mom as a form of training, and as an isolation breaker for moms.
The benefits are for the “body, mind and soul,” said Bonnie Wittman, who is the service line administrator for Halifax Health Center for Women and Infant Health.

Wittman said that along with exercising together, the group shares frustrations and finds solutions to common questions, such as breastfeeding or fussy babies. The group meets for an hour of exercising at a public space like a park or shopping mall. Fit4Mom recommends moms wait at least six weeks after childbirth before joining.

Wischmeier said the emphasis of the exercise is not about getting the body to conform to a certain ideal or body image. The group is more about camaraderie then competition. “I call it ‘Our Village,’” she added. “It’s a place where there’s no judgment. We’re all going through the same thing.”


~ by ppdsus on November 26, 2014.

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