Physical activity for antenatal and postnatal depression in women attempting to quit smoking: randomised controlled trial

Background: Antenatal depression is associated with harmful consequences for both the mother and child. One intervention that might be effective is participation in regular physical activity although data on this question in pregnant smokers is currently lacking. Methods: Women were randomised to six-weekly sessions of smoking cessation behavioural-support, or to the same support plus 14 sessions combining treadmill exercise and physical activity consultations. Results: Among 784 participants (mean gestation 16-weeks), EPDS was significantly higher in the physical activity group versus usual care at end-of-pregnancy (mean group difference (95% confidence intervals (CIs)): 0.95 (0.08 to 1.83). There was no significant difference at six-months postpartum. Conclusion: A pragmatic intervention to increase physical activity in pregnant smokers did not prevent depression at end-of-pregnancy or at six-months postpartum. More effective physical activity interventions are needed in this population.