A common occurrence after having a baby is experiencing the baby blues. Your hormones are trying to get back to normal and during this regulation process, you may feel sad, depressed, anxious and just plain all over the place emotionally. This process usually lasts around three to four weeks after having a baby. If you are physically able, one way to try to cope is by walking or doing other mild exercise. It’s been clinically shown that regular, moderate exercise is beneficial for the mind and body.
Studies going back to 1981 show that regular exercise can improve mood in those with mild to moderate depression and may also help those with severe depression according to the Harvard Medical School. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 1999 involved looking at 156 men and women with depression who were divided into three groups. One group was involved in an aerobic exercise program, another took a medication (Zoloft) and a third did both. After sixteen weeks, depression had eased in all three groups with about 60%–70% of the groups no longer meeting the definition of major depression.
Why would walking help with the baby blues? Exercise increases the action of endorphins; chemicals circulating through your body that improve natural immunity, reduce the perception of pain and may improve your mood. Another theory is that exercise stimulates the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which may directly improve mood.
Regular walking has other physical benefits including lowering blood pressure and providing some protection against heart disease and cancer. How frequently and intensely you exercise is up to you and what you feel you can do after having a baby. For long term overall health, experts suggest a half an hour to an hour of moderate exercise, including brisk walking to improve your health and your mood.
If you want to talk about the baby blues or other postpartum issues contact us today so you can discuss what you’re going through and what we can do to help.