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Feasibility and acceptability of a home-based physical activity program for postnatal women with depressive symptoms: A pilot study

Teychenne, M., van der Pligt, P., Abbott, G. , Brennan, L. & Olander, E. K. ORCID: 0000-0001-7792-9895 (2018). Feasibility and acceptability of a home-based physical activity program for postnatal women with depressive symptoms: A pilot study. Mental Health and Physical Activity, 14, pp. 82-89. doi: 10.1016/j.mhpa.2018.02.007


Most postnatal women are inactive. Since new mothers, particularly those with heightened depressive symptoms experience several challenges to being active such as lack of time and childcare, home-based programs using hired exercise equipment may help overcome these barriers. This study tested the feasibility and acceptability of a home based treadmill intervention among postpartum women with heightened depressive symptoms.

Participants were 11 new mothers (3–9 months postpartum) who at baseline were insufficiently active and experiencing heightened depressive symptoms (based on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale). Following participation in a 12-week physical activity support program (which included free treadmill hire and access to a purposely designed smartphone web-app), semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants. Depressive symptoms were assessed at weeks 4 and 8 and change in depressive symptoms was analysed using repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA). Thematic analyses were used to identify key themes in qualitative data.

Quantitative data showed that there was a significant change over time with depressive symptoms decreasing from weeks 0–4 (mean difference = −5.9, 95% CI = −8.7, −5.5) and overall from weeks 0–8 (mean difference = −7.6, 95% CI = −9.8, −3.1). Postpartum women perceived the program to be convenient, flexible and acceptable. Women suggested that the program was useful in overcoming key barriers to physical activity and perceived that the program increased their physical activity and improved psychological health.

A home-based physical activity program involving cost-free exercise equipment hire was feasible and well accepted by postpartum women. The effectiveness of this program for increasing physical activity and improving mental health in this population should be further tested.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2018, Elsevier. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Exercise, Intervention, Postnatal Depression
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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