Effects of a home-based exercise intervention on fatigue in postpartum depressed women: results of a randomized controlled trial

Ann Behav Med. 2008 Apr;35(2):179-87. doi: 10.1007/s12160-008-9020-4.


Background: Fatigue is prevalent during the postpartum period and may be heightened in postpartum depressed women.

Purpose: To evaluate the efficacy of a home-based exercise intervention in reducing physical and mental fatigue scores in postpartum depressed women.

Methods: Eighty-eight women in the postpartum (4-38 weeks) obtaining a score > or =10 on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) were randomly assigned to a 12-week individualized home-based intervention (n = 46) or a control group (n = 42). All participants completed a cardiovascular fitness test at baseline. Outcomes were physical and mental fatigue scores and were measured at baseline, posttreatment and 3 months posttreatment.

Results: On the basis of intent-to-treat analyses, compared to the control group, women in the exercise group showed significantly greater reduction in physical fatigue at posttreatment [mean change = -4.07, (95% CI, (-5.15, -2.98)] and 3 months posttreatment [mean change = -4.24, (95% CI, (-5.36, -3.12)]. Significant reductions in mental fatigue with exercise were observed at posttreatment for women reporting lower physical fatigue at baseline.

Conclusions: Fatigue is a common symptom experienced in the postpartum that can be heightened by depression. The findings show that home-based exercise can reduce physical and mental fatigue in postpartum depressed women.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology
  • Depression, Postpartum / rehabilitation*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Fatigue / psychology
  • Fatigue / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Home Care Services*
  • Humans
  • Motivation
  • Personality Inventory
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Quebec
  • Treatment Outcome