Examining the Impact of Body Satisfaction and Physical Activity Change on Postpartum Depressive Symptoms

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Relationships among moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), body satisfaction, and postpartum depressive symptoms are not well understood. The purpose of this study is to examine the (1) impact of postpartum body satisfaction and changes in MVPA on postpartum depressive symptoms and (2) moderating effect of changes in MVPA over time on the relationship between postpartum body satisfaction and depressive symptoms. Methods: Participants (N = 269) self-reported body satisfaction, MVPA (prepregnancy through postpartum), and postpartum depressive symptoms. Differences in MVPA at 3 time points (prepregnancy, third trimester, and postpartum) were calculated to create change scores. Main effects and interactions (body satisfaction × MVPA change) were examined using multiple regression. Results: A majority of the sample did not meet MVPA recommendations at all time points. All body satisfaction measures were inversely related to postpartum depressive symptoms (P = .01 to <.001). MVPA change did not predict postpartum depressive symptoms (P = .43–.90) or moderate the relationship between body satisfaction and postpartum depressive symptoms (P = .14–.94). Conclusions: Given the relationship between postpartum body satisfaction and depressive symptoms, intervention research should include strategies that promote positive postpartum body image; clinicians should consider screening for body dissatisfaction. Although not a predictor or moderator, pregnancy and postpartum MVPA promotion should continue, as it has numerous other benefits.

Schlaff and Baruth are with the Department of Health Science, Saginaw Valley State University, University Center, MI. LaFramboise and Deere are with the Department of Kinesiology, Saginaw Valley State University, University Center, MI.

Schlaff (raschlaf@svsu.edu) is corresponding author.
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