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Effect of aerobic exercise during pregnancy on antenatal depression

Authors El-Rafie M, Khafagy G, Gamal M

Received 10 August 2015

Accepted for publication 12 October 2015

Published 24 February 2016 Volume 2016:8 Pages 53—57


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Leyla Bahar

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Elie Al-Chaer

Mervat M El-Rafie,1 Ghada M Khafagy,2 Marwa G Gamal3

1Department of Public Health, 2Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University, Giza, Egypt; 3Family Health Unit, Ministry of Health, Cairo, Egypt

Background: Antenatal depression is not uncommon and is associated with a greater risk of negative pregnancy outcomes.
Aim: Exploring the effect of exercise in preventing and treating antenatal depression.
Methods: This was a prospective interventional controlled study carried out in 100 pregnant women treated at the Ain-Shams Family Medicine Center and Maadi Outpatient Clinic, Cairo, Egypt. The participants were divided into two groups (n=50 in the exercise group and n=50 in the control group). The exercise group regularly attended supervised sessions for 12 weeks. The activities in each session included walking, aerobic exercise, stretching, and relaxation. The control group completed their usual antenatal care. The Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) was used to assess depression symptoms at the first interview and immediately after the 12-week intervention.
Results: Compared to the control group, the exercise group showed significantly improved depressive symptoms as measured with the CES-D after the 12-week intervention on the CES-D (P=0.001). Within groups, the exercise group demonstrated a significant improvement of depressive symptoms from baseline to intervention completion, while the control group demonstrated no significant changes over time.
Conclusion: Exercise during pregnancy was positively associated with reduced depressive symptoms.

Keywords: antenatal depression, pregnant women, exercise

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