Let's Get Moving!

Ukactive Project Coordinator Lizzie Cockle reports on a pilot programme for new mums

Legal & General and ukactive have been working together on a project called Let’s Get Moving which aims to supports new mums in Bedfordshire to be more physically active.

ukactive is the UK’s leading not-for-profit health body for the physical activity sector, with a mission to get more people, more active, more often. ukactive aim to improve the health of the nation through promoting active lifestyles by facilitating big impact partnerships, championing innovation, providing high quality services to its members, campaigning, providing research and sharing insights.

ukactive partnered with NCT (the UK’s largest charity for parents) to design and deliver a 1-year pilot project to support new mothers to lead a healthy and active lifestyle.

As a new mother, becoming more active or returning to activity after giving birth can be intimidating, and it can be very difficult to find the time, energy or motivation. Research has shown that activity levels are lower in parents than non-parents, and the postnatal period is a time when physical activity levels drop and often do not return to pre-parenthood levels. We know that new mothers who feel able to take part in activity experience increased energy, improved confidence in their role as mother, increased fitness and reduced symptoms of postnatal depression. The whole family can benefit too; children’s activity levels are strongly influenced by their mother’s activity levels.

Let’s Get Moving (LGM) is an evidence-based behaviour change intervention that uses motivational interviewing to promote physical activity. We have specialised the programme to offer tailored postnatal support to new mothers in Bedfordshire, in the form of 12 weeks of one-to-one and group support with a Community Exercise Professional (CEP). The CEP uses a counselling technique called motivational interviewing; this enables a person-centred and goal-orientated interaction, supporting the participants to explore and discover their own motivations, goals, beliefs and barriers, and in turn, helps the participant elicit a sustainable behaviour change. LGM also allows participants to meet other mums, and to find out about local activities suitable for mum and baby.

Generously funded by Legal & General, this free service is designed to fit around ‘real life’ and bring benefit to the whole family. At UK Active we believe that the first 1,000 Days – from conception through to a child’s second birthday is crucial in shaping a child’s future. And that exercise has an important part to play.

Over 100 mums took part in Let’s Get Moving, and 73% of participants had increased their physical activity levels 3 months after taking part. An increase was seen across all intensities of physical activity; i.e. walking, moderate activity (e.g. yoga, swimming) and vigorous activity (e.g. running, gym). The mums were followed up 6 months after taking part, and 62% of participants showed an increase in physical activity, demonstrating that a sustainable behaviour change had been made by most.

The positive outcomes that the mothers experienced extended further than simply an increase in activity levels. We received some fantastic testimonials from many mums that took part. Here are a few quotes:

“I have achieved far more than I thought I would, even though I set my goals at the first meeting I didn’t think I would be at the place I am now.”

“I suffer from depression and when I’m feeling down I will go out for a walk and it helps my mood.”

“I feel like I have my identity back.

“I regularly meet up with some of the other Let’s Get Moving (LGM) mums and we do a walk before going for coffee together. I live on the outskirts on the county and didn’t know anyone in the area before attending LGM so making friends with other mums has been a real bonus.”

“I wanted to get more active with the kids, and we now get out ore and my daughter sleeps better at night. I feel more confidence and I have more energy.”

We are delighted that Let’s Get Moving has helped almost three-quarters of participants to incorporate physical activity in their lives, and to see that the majority of these have continued to increase their activity months after taking part. We would like to thank Legal & General for funding the project, and NCT for their partnership and insight.  

Bernie Hickman CEO, Legal & General Insurance said “We are delighted to be supporting the Lets get Moving Programme in Bedfordshire. Fitter families are essential to a more resilient UK.”