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How to reduce your stress, boost your mood and get active at the same time

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It took becoming a mum to help me realise that my pre-child life wasn’t as busy as I thought. 

Looking back – I had a lot of free time, and to me free time meant being active.  So, I had time to go for an hour’s walk before the work day, time to go to yoga classes, time to spend a day exploring my city by bike.

For me, stepping into motherhood meant my time spent being physically active took a massive dive, and I’m not alone. A recent AusPlay survey found that when it comes to being physically active, frequent participation (three or more times a week) is notably reduced if you have children under 15.

So how can we find a balance between being a parent and being active? It helps if we rethink our approach to physical activity and look for ways we can be active with our children and bank incremental movement throughout the day. That is why I’ve created a program with Bluearth, called Meet & Move.

From speaking with and listening to mums at playgroups over the last couple of years, I’ve heard some consistent themes.

Parents often spoke of feeling isolated with young babies, of walking in their neighbourhood or visiting their local playground and wondering where the other parents with young kids were and how it was hard to find time for the active hobbies they previously enjoyed. They also found it hard to make their social time active, saying that when they did meet up with friends they regularly met and sat at a cafe.

Meet & Move aims to combat the barriers to becoming more active by combining the social and play elements of a playgroup with movement for mums.

All Meet & Move sessions occur outdoors and include a pram-friendly, baby-wearing friendly walk, gentle yoga-style stretching or toning exercises (selected sessions) and a chance for the kids to burn off some energy at a playground or to walk/bike with the group.

We also engage parents and their children in activities which develop skills such as running, kicking, balancing, throwing and catching. Our focus is to make movement fun and help parents to bank more active time into their day.

It’s not only your body that benefits from being physically active either. Moving is a stress reliever and helps you feel more energetic and refreshed.

Parents regularly comment that they feel better after the session (even if it was a challenge to get out of the house in the morning), that their kids have better naps after being outdoors and active, and that I’ve helped them explore parts of Canberra they never knew existed.

Four free Meet & Move sessions occur each week in the Belconnen region. The program is run mid-week during the school term and will move southside in 2020. You can follow the program on Facebook via this group.

Meet & Move is a program of the Bluearth Foundation, working in partnership with Mums Exercise Group Australia (MEGA) Canberra and supported by ACT Government under the ACT Health Promotion Grants Program. It has been created to help mums with young kids to be more active together, get outdoors and connect with other mums.

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