Psychological effects of an aerobic exercise session and a rest session following pregnancy

J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1997 Dec;37(4):287-91.


Background: Mood changes have been reported to occur in many women following pregnancy. It is well documented that exercise is associated with reductions in state anxiety and depression. The purpose of this study was to assess mood changes in the postpartum period in women who exercised compared to women who did not exercise.

Methods: All of the women who volunteered for this study had delivered a baby within the past year (mean = 12 wks; SD = 4 wks). Twenty women volunteered to complete the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and the Profile of Mood States before and following either an exercise session (N = 10) or a quiet rest session (N 10). Exercise consisted of 60 min of low-impact aerobic activity at an intensity between 60-70% of maximal heart rate reserve. Quiet rest consisted of sitting quietly in a room free from distractions for 60 min. Data were analyzed with 2 x 2 ANOVA.

Results and conclusions: Results indicated that state anxiety and depression decreased significantly (p < 0.05) following exercise and quiet rest. Furthermore, exercise was associated with significant decreases (p < 0.05) in total mood disturbance, as well as significant increases (p < 0.05) in vigor in physically active postpartum women.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anxiety / prevention & control
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Depression / prevention & control
  • Depression / psychology
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mood Disorders / prevention & control
  • Mood Disorders / psychology
  • Physical Fitness / physiology
  • Postpartum Period / physiology
  • Postpartum Period / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Puerperal Disorders / prevention & control
  • Puerperal Disorders / psychology
  • Rest / physiology