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Effects of Resistance Training on Fatigue-Related Domains of Quality of Life and Mood During Pregnancy

A Randomized Trial in Pregnant Women With Increased Risk of Back Pain

O'Connor, Patrick J. PhD; Poudevigne, Mélanie S. PhD; Johnson, Kristen E. MS; Brito de Araujo, Juliana BS; Ward-Ritacco, Christie L. PhD

doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000559

Objective The aim of the study was to test whether the adoption of twice weekly, low-to-moderate intensity resistance training during weeks 22 to 34 of pregnancy can improve quality of life and mood.

Methods A parallel-group trial was conducted. Women in their second trimester (N = 134) were randomly assigned to 12 weeks of wait list, bimonthly pregnancy education classes, or twice weekly low-to-moderate intensity resistance training. Resistance training involved one abdominal exercise with no external load and five exercises (leg extension, leg press, arm lat pull, leg curl, and lumbar extension) with an external load that gradually progressed, and the total active exercise time during each exercise session was approximately 17 minutes. Quality of life and mood were measured before and after the interventions using the 36-item Short Form Health Survey and Profile of Mood States. Intent-to-treat mixed-model analyses of variance (3 groups by 2 times, pre- and postintervention) tested the hypothesis that outcomes would worsen for the controls and not change or improve for the resistance training group.

Results The group by time interaction (F(2,131) = 3.144, η2 = .046, p = .046) for 36-item Short Form Health Survey vitality and subsequent simple main effects showed that scores were unchanged across time after resistance training (−1.8 (14.8)) but significantly decreased for the education (−6.44 (12.69), t = 3.408, df = 44, p = .001) and wait list (−9.11 (14.78), t = 4.135, df = 44, p < .001) groups, whereas posttest vitality scores for the pregnancy group (45.9 (16.9)) were significantly higher than the wait list (40.1 (16.3), t = 1.989, df = 87, p = .05) but not the education group (42.1 (15.4), p = .27). Profile of mood states fatigue scores showed a similar pattern.

Conclusions Adverse changes in symptoms of energy and fatigue during pregnancy are attenuated by adopting low-to-moderate intensity resistance training.

Clinical Trial Registration, NCT02557893.

From the Department of Kinesiology (O'Connor, Johnson), University of Georgia, Athens; Department of Health and Fitness Management (Poudevigne), Clayton State University, Morrow, Georgia; CAPES Foundation (Brito de Araujo), Ministry of Education of Brazil, Brasília; and Department of Kinesiology (Ward-Ritacco), University of Rhode Island, Kingston.

Address correspondence to Patrick J. O'Connor, PhD, Department of Kinesiology, University of Georgia, Room 115-L, 330 River Rd, Athens, Georgia 30602-6554. E-mail:

Received for publication July 6, 2017; revision received November 22, 2017.

Copyright © 2018 by American Psychosomatic Society
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