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Aug 28, 2018

Wellbeing impact of a cycling programme for mums

This case study is supporting the evidence part of the Family, Outdoor Recreation and Wellbeing review. It outlines a  project supporting mums to  cycle together and evaluated the confidence, activity levels, and wellbeing of participants.

The big takeaway

  • Common wellbeing outcomes included; more time spent with the family outside; increased physical activity; increased sociability (making new friends); improved confidence and enhanced mental health and wellbeing.

Who was involved?

  • Local charity, Active Devon
  • Devon County Council
  • Public Health Devon
  • Devon County Council Sustainable Travel
  • 206 mothers in Devon, and their 209 children

It has given me much more confidence in my own abilities and made me realise I can go out with just me and the kids.” (Cycling mum participant, Cranbrook)

In September 2015, Active Devon was commissioned by Devon County Council to deliver an Active Mums cycling project on behalf of Local District Authority Health & Wellbeing representatives. Following a successful pilot project in Teignbridge & Torbay, District Public Health leads agreed to focus on scaling this activity across the county to eight towns (Exeter, Barnstaple, Bideford, Crediton, Okehampton, Cranbrook, Exmouth and Newton abbot). Public Health Devon engaged colleagues from Devon County Council Sustainable Travel to integrate the project with the Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

The Devon Mums cycling project involved a series of group social cycle rides which took place for a period of between 4-8 weeks, after which participants were provided with support to continue riding outside of the programme. The main purpose of the initiative was to encourage, support and sustain more mums to cycle regularly with their children for health and wellbeing, social opportunities, and active travel benefits.

Participants and recruitment

A community activation approach was agreed involving listening to local residents to identify potential barriers and motivations to take part in cycling and explain the benefits to health and wellbeing. Active Devon and their local delivery partners facilitated a series of taster sessions led by local ride leaders. Targeted promotion and a social media plan were then put in place to advertise the project and encourage booking onto sessions.

The programme successfully engaged 206 new mums into cycling alongside their children (209). At the start of the project, 93% of the mums were ‘under-active’, doing less than the CMO guidelines of 150 minutes of activity each week. Since completing the project, four of the mums, who had no previous experience of cycling, are now trained as British Cycling ‘Ride Leaders’ and many of the mums have continued cycling regularly, either with fellow project participants, cycling as a means of travel, or going out for rides with their families.

Data collection

Data were collected from video recorded conversations with participants, evaluation sessions after group rides, and via ‘post it note’ feedback about the sessions. The mums were asked questions about the reasons for participating, the primary outcomes from attending, and the most enjoyable elements of the programme. The Active Devon team were also able to view feedback on the Active Mums Facebook groups, which evidenced that participants were continuing to cycle after the programme, were buying new equipment, and were supporting each other to get out on the bike.

Wellbeing outcomes

“We are cycling more as a family as a result of getting started with active mums! Also, opportunity to do things like tour of Britain and meet other mums/ride with friends is great!” (Cycling mum participant, Exmouth)

Image 3: Active Mums leading out the Devon Tour of Britain stage with Sir Bradley Wiggins

Participants have reported a number of positive wellbeing related outcomes from being involved in the Active Mums cycling project. Common outcomes included; more time spent with the family outside; increased physical activity; increased sociability (making new friends); improved confidence and enhanced mental health and wellbeing. The following quote from a mum from the Cranbook programme evidences several of these outcomes:

“Having an organised activity that involves spending time outside with your children, interacting with other mums and – really importantly – being active is perfect. I really looked forward to Wednesdays and went out regardless of the weather and just found it was good for my mental health and wellbeing.” (Cycling mum participant, Cranbrook)

The majority of participants were ‘under active’ prior to taking part in the Active Mums project. Data from participants suggests the project has increased physical activity levels and promoted future outdoor activity with the family:

“Confidence to get out cycling with a baby has definitely improved, and got me thinking about how good it is again to get out exercising post baby. We have bought a baby seat and baby helmet.” (Cycling mum participant, Exmouth)

The future of Active Mums

Active Devon are continuing to grow Active Mums Cycling across Devon and are now present in 10 areas. Having secured further funding from Devon County Council to continue into 2018, they are aiming to engage up to 300 mums across Devon with the goal of increasing confidence, activity levels, and wellbeing for participants. The upcoming programme will be taking place from March – July in the different areas across Devon.

Having already trained eight new ‘mum’ ride leaders, Active Devon are now looking to work with British Cycling to put on another ride leaders course in March to provide further support for the programme.  Active Devon are working with a variety of partners and organisations to ensure the sustainability of Active Mums and to continue to provide fun, safe, organised rides.

For further information please contact

Louise Evans, Development Manager, Active Devon.

Case study written by Active Devon

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