A new research project is starting at the University of the Fraser Valley for postpartum women.
Researchers are looking to connect with women who have a baby less than a year old, for the study that is set to begin in mid-April. It’s a fitness-based program that will run for eight weeks, bi-weekly.
And yes, the babies are invited, too.
“The goal is to explore the impact of group fitness of anxiety in postpartum women,” says Dr. Iris Lesser. “While we came up with this idea pre-covid, there has been lots of work exploring the impact that the pandemic has had on mental health in new moms so the benefits have likely increased since.”
The project will run as a group fitness camp, with the moms meeting twice a week at the UFV Chilliwack site for an outdoor workout. While babies won’t be integrated into the workouts, they are welcome to be there in car seats and strollers, Lesser says.
She will be bringing her own infant daughter along, and taking part as well. She is currently on maternity leave from her position at UFV, but passionate about the many research projects she and her colleagues have been undertaking in the university’s school of kinesiology. The work for this program was started prior to the pandemic by Lesser, Dr. Gillian Hatfield, and Dr. Carl Nienhuis.
Many of their previous research projects tracked and quantified the effects exercise has on anxiety, and this will be no different.
Participants will go through an introduction survey online, and then follow up surveys afterward. And at each workout, they will be asked to self assess their levels of anxiety and other symptoms, before and after. It’s a similar process to other successful projects the researchers at UFV have carried out, including a hiking program for cancer survivors.
Lesser says that even before the pandemic, the rates of postpartum depression and anxiety were rising among North American mothers. Being unable to socialize over past year has increased the difficulties new moms face.
“This has become a mental first aid situation,” she says. “These are babies that were born into a lockdown situation. And moms are not OK.”
There are a few spots left, and those with questions can contact email@example.com for more information. They are collecting everyone’s information and will begin the program as soon as it is deemed safe to do so by the provincial health officer.
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