Can Exercise Help with Pregnancy Mood Swings?
Hyland didn't just exercise to stay in shape; it also helped lift her mood. "I was so happy to be able to get outside and jog for 45 minutes," she says. In fact, exercise keeps your endorphins (your body's natural "happy" chemicals) flowing, Mikeska says. That's a crucial benefit, especially since we now know that there are more mood disturbances during pregnancy than postpartum, due to the massive influx of extra estrogen and progesterone (hormones linked closely to mood), says Melanie Poudevigne, PhD, health and fitness management program coordinator at Clayton State University, in Morrow, Georgia.
Psychologically speaking, pregnancy can also be stressful because it's full of so many unknowns. "That perceived lack of control makes pregnant women very vulnerable to mood disturbances," Poudevigne says. She and her colleagues recently conducted a study where they led sedentary pregnant women with lower-back pain through a moderate-intensity weight-training program. It not only curbed the pain, it also lifted the women's moods, Poudevigne says. They learned how to monitor their discomfort levels, and came to feel that they were more in control of their own bodies.