27 Jul The effect of physical exercise on postpartum fitness, hormone and lipid levels: a randomized controlled trial in primiparous, lactating women.
Arch. Gynecol. Obstet. 2015 Mar; 291(3):525-30. doi: 10.1007/s00404-014-3418-y. Epub 2014 Aug 20.
Purpose: To evaluate the effect of an exercise training program combining low impact dance aerobic, resistance and stretching exercise on physical fitness, hormone and lipid levels of postpartum, primiparous, lactating women.
Methods: Thirty seven primiparous, lactating women were randomly assigned at 4-6 week postpartum to either follow an exercise training program of 50-60 min aerobic, strengthening and stretching exercise, three days a week, for 12 weeks (interventional group; n=20) or no training program at all (control group; n=17). The following parameters were measured at baseline and 12 weeks later: 1) for evaluation of physical fitness: VO2max, muscular endurance, joint mobility and body fat; 2) for evaluation of the lipidemic profile: triglyceride, total cholesterol, HDL and LDL levels, and 3) levels of hormones associated with lactation: prolactin, estradiol, cortisol, TSH, fT3 and fT4.
Results: After completion of the exercise training program, comparisons between the interventional and the control group showed statistically significant mean changes in VO2max (p=0.003), muscular endurance of the upper extremities (p<0.001), and the abdomen (p<0.001), flexibility (p=0.042), and body fat (p=0.007). There were no significant differences between the two groups in mean changes of lipid and hormone levels.
Conclusion: Implementation of a low-impact exercise training program appears to improve physical fitness of postpartum women, while it does not seem to affect lipid levels and lactation-associated hormone levels. Hence, implementation of an exercise training program combining low impact dance aerobic, resistance and stretching exercise is feasible in postpartum, primiparous, lactating women.