Background: Existing evidence on guidance of postpartum fitness activities is scarce.
Research question: To examine the effects of a low impact exercise program on the physical and psychosocial well-being of postpartum women.
Type of study: Randomised controlled trial.
Methods: Forty healthy primiparous Greek women were randomly assigned at 4-6 week postpartum to follow either a low impact exercise training program, involving 50-60 min of aerobic, stretching and strengthening exercise, 3 days a week, for 12 weeks (experimental group; n=20) or no training program at all (control group; n=20). Prior to initiation of the study and 12 weeks later, participants answered the Lederman Postpartum Self-Evaluation Questionnaire, in order to evaluate psychosocial well-being, and mothers’ body weight and infant feeding methods were recorded, in order to evaluate women’s’ physical well-being. All data were analyzed using Mancova test, a Linear Mixed model and the Chi-square test.
Results: Psychosocial well-being parameters were significantly improved in the experimental group, as compared with the control group, including “quality of partner relationship” (p<.05) and “satisfaction from labour and delivery experience” (p<.05). Differences in body weight changes between the two groups were insignificant, while the experimental group was more stable regarding the infant feeding method after the 12-week period (p = ns) as opposed to the control group (p<0.001).
Conclusions: Implementation of a low-impact exercise training program appears to improve the psychosocial well-being of postpartum women. Healthcare providers should consider incorporation of a low-impact exercise training program into their management plan of women after childbirth.