Comparing the Effects of Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Physical Activity on Pregnant Women’s General Health

Bita Sadeghi, Masoud Sirati‑Nir, Zahra Hajimini, Abbas Ebadi, Matin Ali‑Asgari


Background: Pregnancy is important because maternal health and well‑being directly affects another person’s life. This study aimed to compare the effects of progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) and physical activity (PA) on the general health of pregnant women.

Materials and Methods: This randomized clinical trial was conducted among 96 primiparous women enrolled in a prenatal clinic in Tehran (Iran) between May 3, 2013 and August 7, 2013. The participants were selected through convenience sampling over 3 weeks and randomly assigned to the PMR, PA, and control groups, comprising 32 participants each. Six participants did not complete the follow‑up measurement (N = 90). The PMR group underwent three sessions of 1.5–2 h in theoretical and practical training, and in the PMR group, training was given in groups of three to four persons. Both groups performed exercises at home for 8 weeks and recorded them in daily report sheets. The general health of all three groups was assessed before and after intervention by using the General Health Questionnaire‑28.

Results: Differences in the mean (SD) general health scores obtained before and after intervention in the PMR, PA, and control groups were 15.63 (5.73), 19.11 (7.79), and 8.27 (2.14), respectively. One‑way analysis of variance test showed a significant difference between the three groups (F = 28.10; p < 0.001).

Conclusions: As the study results confirm the positive effects of PMR and PA on the subscales of the general health of pregnant women, the two techniques are recommended to promote the general health of pregnant women.


General health, Iran, physical activity, pregnancy, progressive muscle relaxation

Full Text:



Annan KA. Maternal Health: Investing in the Lifeline of Healthy Societies & Economies: Africa progress panel; 2010. pp 77.

Hojjati S. Relationship between daily physical activity during last month of pregnancy and pregnancy outcome. Iran Red Crescent Med J 2011;2011:15‑20.

Henderson J, Redshaw M. Who is well after childbirth? Factors related to positive outcome. Birth 2013;40:1‑9.

Marcus SM. Depression during pregnancy: Rates, risks and consequences. Can J Clin Pharmacol 2009;16:15‑22.

Christian LM. Physiological reactivity to psychological stress in human pregnancy: Current knowledge and future directions. Prog Neurobiol 2012;99:106‑16.

DiPietro JA. Maternal stress in pregnancy: Considerations for fetal development. J Adolesc Health 2012;51:S3‑S8.

Weir Z, Bush J, Robson SC, McParlin C, Rankin J, Bell R. Physical activity in pregnancy: A qualitative study of the beliefs of overweight and obese pregnant women. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 2010;10:18.

Arizabaleta AVM, Buitrago LO, de Plata ACA, Escudero MM, Ramírez‑Vélez R. Aerobic exercise during pregnancy improves health‑related quality of life: A randomised trial. J Physiother 2010;56:253‑8.

Evenson KR, Barakat R, Brown WJ, Dargent‑Molina P, Haruna M, Mikkelsen EM, et al. Guidelines for Physical Activity During Pregnancy Comparisons From Around the World. Am J Lifestyle Med 2014:103.

Sadeghi A, Sirati‑Nir M, Ebadi A, Aliasgari M, Hajiamini Z. The effect of progressive muscle relaxation on pregnant women’s general health. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res 2015;20:655.

Marc I, Toureche N, Ernst E, Hodnett ED, Blanchet C, Dodin S, et al. Mind‑body interventions during pregnancy for preventing or treating women’s anxiety. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2011;2011:7.

Perry SE, Hockenberry MJ, Lowdermilk DL, Wilson D. Maternal child nursing care. Elsevier Health Sciences; 2013. pp 212.

Shivakumar G, Brandon AR, Snell PG, Santiago‑Muñoz P, Johnson NL, Trivedi MH, et al. Antenatal depression: A rationale for studying exercise. Depress Anxiety 2011;28:234‑42.

Akmeşe ZB, Oran NT. Effects of progressive muscle relaxation exercises accompanied by music on low back pain and quality of life during pregnancy. J Midwifery Womens Health 2014;59:503‑9.

Fink NS, Urech C, Cavelti M, Alder J. Relaxation during pregnancy: What are the benefits for mother, fetus, and the newborn? A systematic review of the literature. J Perinat Neonatal Nurs 2012;26:296‑306.

Tragea C, Chrousos GP, Alexopoulos EC, Darviri C. A randomized controlled trial of the effects of a stress management programme during pregnancy. Complement Ther Med 2014;22:203‑11.

Silveira LC, Segre CA. Physical exercise during pregnancy and its influence in the type of birth. Einstein (São Paulo) 2012;10:409‑14.

Downs DS, Chasan‑Taber L, Evenson KR, Leiferman J, Yeo S. Physical activity and pregnancy: Past and present evidence and future recommendations. Res Q Exerc Sport 2012;83:485‑502.

Ferraro ZM, Gaudet L, Adamo KB. The potential impact of physical activity during pregnancy on maternal and neonatal outcomes. Obstet Gynecol Surv 2012;67:99‑110.

Petrov Fieril K, Glantz A, Fagevik Olsen M. The efficacy of moderate‑to‑vigorous resistance exercise during pregnancy: A randomized controlled trial. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2015;94:35‑42.

Ko Y‑L, Chen C‑P, Lin P‑C. Physical activities during pregnancy and type of delivery in nulliparae. Eur J Sport Sci 2016;16:374‑80.

Huberty JL, Buman MP, Leiferman JA, Bushar J, Adams MA. Trajectories of objectively‑measured physical activity and sedentary time over the course of pregnancy in women self‑identified as inactive. Prev Med Rep 2016;3:353‑60.

Barakat R, Stirling JR, Lucia A. Does exercise training during pregnancy affect gestational age? A randomised controlled trial. Br J Sports Med 2008;42:674‑8.

Hoeger W, Hoeger S. Lifetime physical fitness and wellness: A personalized program: Cengage Learning; 2014. pp 220.

Kader M, Naim‑Shuchana S. Physical activity and exercise during pregnancy. Eur J Physiother 2014;16:2‑9.

Gjestland K, Bø K, Owe KM, Eberhard‑Gran M. Do pregnant women follow exercise guidelines? Prevalence data among 3482 women, and prediction of low‑back pain, pelvic girdle pain and depression. Br J Sports Med 2012:bjsports‑2012‑091344.

Noorbala AA, Mohammad K. The validation of general health questionnaire‑28 as a psychiatric screening tool. Hakim Research J 2009;11:47‑53.

Melzer K, Schutz Y, Boulvain M, Kayser B. Physical activity and pregnancy. Sports Med 2010;40:493‑507.

Barakat R, Pelaez M, Montejo R, Luaces M, Zakynthinaki M. Exercise during pregnancy improves maternal health perception: A randomized controlled trial. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2011;204:402.

Cavalcante SR, Cecatti JG, Pereira RI, Baciuk EP, Bernardo AL, Silveira C. Water aerobics II: Maternal body composition and perinatal outcomes after a program for low risk pregnant women. Reprod Health 2009;6:1.

Beddoe AE, Paul Yang CP, Kennedy HP, Weiss SJ, Lee KA. The Effects of Mindfulness Based Yoga During Pregnancy on Maternal Psychological and Physical Distress. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs 2009;38:310‑9.

Nascimento SL, Surita FG, Godoy AC, Kasawara KT, Morais SS. Physical activity patterns and factors related to exercise during pregnancy: A cross sectional study. PLoS One 2015;10:e0128953.


  • There are currently no refbacks.