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Pre- and postnatal exercise programmes launched

The Couch to Fitness programmes are the first of their kind to be endorsed by the Active Pregnancy Foundation.

10th November 2022

New and expectant mothers are being helped to get active thanks to new free programmes from Our Parks, designed specifically for them.

We’ve invested £311,000 of National Lottery money in Our Parks to develop, while working closely with London Sport, their Couch to Fitness programmes.

The latest two are focussed on pre- and postnatal exercise and designed by experts to meet the needs of women in these stages of life, when we know being active comes with additional challenges.

A pregnant woman follows along to an exercise class on her TV

Both have also been reviewed and endorsed by the Active Pregnancy Foundation, who have developed a pre-exercise screening to ensure the programmes are suitable for the intended audiences.

And with 64% of pregnant women or new mums having experienced nervousness or anxiety related to physical activity, our director of marketing Kate Dale knows how helpful these programmes could be.

“Our relationship with our bodies and ourselves can change so much during pregnancy and early motherhood,” she said.

“Getting and staying active can be really helpful, emotionally and physically, yet many women aren't sure what's recommended for them to do and are often even worried about doing more harm than good.

“We're thrilled to be working with Our Parks to create these new 6-week online programmes, developed by expert instructors, that allow women to take part at their own pace in the comfort of their own home and have been designed with their needs in mind.”

Each free programme lasts six weeks, with three sessions a week each lasting around half an hour, is suitable for all levels and comes with the bonus of a strong and supportive Our Parks online community.

“Our relationship with our bodies and ourselves can change so much during pregnancy and early motherhood.”

Kate Dale

Director of marketing, Sport England

Since March this year, more than 60,000 hours of exercise have been delivered on the Our Parks website, with their Couch to Fitness Facebook group having more than 9,000 members that offer motivation and support to one another.

The existing programmes also have a diverse audience, with 36% of users coming from ethnically diverse backgrounds, as well as having a 50% completion rate – which is above average for programmes targeting inactive people.

And Born Barikor, Our Parks founder, is excited to add these two new programmes to the current Couch to Fitness catalogue.

“The launch of the Couch to Fitness Pre- and Postnatal programmes is a proud moment for Our Parks and the sector,” he said.

“The programmes are entirely created through collaboration with Sport England, London Sport, the Active Pregnancy Foundation and industry experts.

“A tremendous amount of work has gone into making this programme appropriate, accessible and inspiring to give mothers the confidence to be active during and after pregnancy.

“Working in partnership with other organisations leads to innovation and diverse thinking; I am so delighted with what we continue to achieve through this partnership and am keen to continue to share this learning with the sector.”

With 74% of women surveyed in a 2021 poll by Savanta ComRes saying that they felt, or would have felt, more reassured to become or stay active as a result of receiving safety advice or encouragement from a healthcare professional, we knew it was important to speak to experts in active pregnancy.

Which is why, alongside the new programmes comes a sophisticated screening tool to further check the exercises are suitable for individual participants.

“Navigating an active motherhood can be really challenging, particularly if you are new to activity,” said Dr Marlize De Vivo, chief executive officer of the Active Pregnancy Foundation. 

“Not knowing where to start, what you can or can’t do, or which professional to turn to, means that many women are missing out on the associated physical and mental health benefits.

“The Couch to Fitness Pre- and Postnatal Programmes address many of these barriers and makes movement more accessible.

“As part of our mission to improve industry standards, we’ve worked closely with Our Parks, London Sport and Sport England to ensure alignment to the national physical activity guidelines and best practice standards.

“We are delighted to announce these as the first programmes to receive our official endorsement.”

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