It’s a vicious cycle: Pregnant women who are depressed sit a lot, increasing their risk for greater weight gain and diabetes, a new study shows.
More than 1,260 pregnant women provided researchers information about their physical activity levels and mental health in their first trimester and the later stages of their second trimester.
Women who were depressed were more likely to sit for longer periods, and those who spent more time sitting in the second trimester also did less physical activity.
Researchers found that inactive women gained significant amounts of weight between the first and second trimester and had higher blood sugar levels around 28 weeks of pregnancy, putting them at increased risk for gestational diabetes.
The study was presented this week at the Society for Endocrinology’s annual meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The researchers said their findings show the need for looking after women’s physical and mental health from the early stages of pregnancy.
“Pregnant women could benefit from early intervention to improve their physical and mental health and reduce the risks associated with sedentary behavior,” study author Nithya Sukumar, a research fellow at Warwick Medical School in the U.K., said in a society news release.
“Gestational diabetes can increase the risk of birth complications for the mother and baby, and so it is important we minimize this risk by reducing the time that pregnant women spend sitting down,” Sukumar added.
Study co-author Ponnusamy Saravanan, an associate clinical professor at Warwick, agreed.
“Encouraging women to take breaks from sitting down might be an easier public health policy to implement than increasing their physical activity during pregnancy,” he said in the news release. “We believe reducing the sitting time has the potential to reduce pregnant women’s risk of gestational diabetes and reduce the metabolic risk factors of their newborns.”
Research presented at medical meetings is typically considered preliminary because it does not receive the same scrutiny as studies published in medical or scientific journals.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about exercise during pregnancy.