Dr. Iris Lesser exercises on Vedder Rotary Trail in January with her infant daughter. Lesser is a researcher with the University of the Fraser Valley, currently on maternity leave. She will be taking part in a research study soon for postpartum women. (Anne Russell/ UFV)

Dr. Iris Lesser exercises on Vedder Rotary Trail in January with her infant daughter. Lesser is a researcher with the University of the Fraser Valley, currently on maternity leave. She will be taking part in a research study soon for postpartum women. (Anne Russell/ UFV)

Postpartum moms invited to group fitness class for UFV research

Program’s goal is to explore the impact of group fitness of anxiety in postpartum women

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 gillian.hatfield@ufv.ca 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.

READ MORE: UFV pandemic study on exercise and mental health complete

READ MORE: UFV study finds women with reduced physical activity had more mental health struggles during COVID pandemic


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CommunityFraser ValleyHealthresearch

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Chilliwack Search and Rescue truck heads down Vedder Road towards Cultus Lake to assist a dirtbiker with a broken leg. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Emergency crews, SAR busy with three separate outdoor recreation incidents in Chilliwack area

Calls in 1 afternoon include ATV collision, parachuter who fell from tree, dirtbiker with broken leg

Philomusica Chorus and Ensemble released ‘All Good Gifts’ on YouTube on April 3, 2021. (YouTube)
Chilliwack chorus shares latest song with ‘same love, enthusiasm’ as pre-pandemic music

Philomusica Chorus and Ensemble recently released its version of ‘All Good Gifts’ on YouTube

Crews are on scene of a three-vehicle collision at Vedder and Knight roads in Chilliwack on Saturday, April 17, 2021. (Jessica Peters/ Chilliwack Progress)
Three-vehicle collision in Chilliwack causes traffic backlog at busy intersection

Collision happened at intersection of Vedder and Knight

Chilliwack’s historic Royal Hotel is offering COVID-style wedding packages for two weeks in June. (Facebook/ Royal Hotel Chilliwack)
Chilliwack hotel offers pop-up, COVID-style weddings for 2 weeks this June

‘Weddings can still happen, albeit in a different fashion,’ says Laura Reid of Royal Hotel

Kay Campbell (left) and Linda Brawn with Chilliwack Senior Peer Counsellors said the organization is in need of more volunteers to chat with seniors. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Volunteers like ‘lifeline’ for lonely seniors, says Chilliwack Senior Peer Counsellors

National Volunteer Week: People encouraged to volunteer time in form of weekly phone chats with elderly

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Most Read