Way of the Roses

Last year I decided to tackle the Way of the Roses, a 170 mile cycle from the west coast of England to the east coast. With lots of very big hills in between. On Sunday 20th September, I completed the challenge I had set myself, only I can’t say I. We completed the challenge, all 18 of us. You see, what fun would there have been to do it alone? Indeed, I am not so sure if I had done it alone, I, would have had the motivation to see it through or even get to the start point, never mind achieve my goal.

12038835_10204497384946734_8314733898016435511_oOur journey started in December 2014 when I asked if there were any health visitor colleagues who would undertake this challenge with me as a way of raising funds to support the iHV. What has been really inspiring, is that only a handful of those that said yes, were cyclists. Indeed the majority of us did not even own a bike! So, what motivated 18 non experienced cycling health visitors, with varying degrees of fitness to succeed?

When I asked my colleagues (well friends, because that is what we became), this question, they all said- it was having support, a common bond and a clear goal. One health visitor, Julie, looked back on her journey and said “I remember when I nearly gave up- the first ride out, which was 10 miles on the flat. I was out of breath, I felt wobbly on my bike, and my muscles ached. In fact I had to go lay down when I got home, but the warmth, encouragement and support of the whole group- the YOU CAN DO IT message really inspired and motivated me to keep with it” – Julie, was the one who flew past us all on all the major hills.

12027615_845628532210677_9104935456830407424_nMeeting regularly, either physically when we were training, or online, became something we all looked forward to. What started out as an ambition to lose weight, get fit, be more toned, feel healthy (yes there was personal goals, alongside the collective goal of raising money for a fabulous charity) became something so much more. It became self-belief, confidence, trust, friendship, support and fun. I think these things, alongside having a clear goal, were key to our success.

Without exception, all those that took part have said how regular exercise, outside has improved their mental wellbeing, improved sleep, reduced stress and helped them cope better with life on a day to day basis. Being outside with friends appreciating the beautiful world, we all too often forget to see, absolutely lifts the soul (as well as bums, thighs and tums)!

wotr9Ready Steady Mums offers women the opportunity to support each other and enjoy the benefits of coming together with a common bond alongside the achievement of personal goals. Whether you walk 1 mile, 5 miles or 10, you will feel part of something bigger. You will also feel better in all sorts of ways.

It is in this same spirit of helping women to transform their mental and physical wellbeing that we formally welcome Ready Steady Mums into the iHV family. This programme provides a challenge each week for mums to gather and walk their way to friendship and fitness.

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What’s in the bag? – having fun with the launch of RSM

Monday 28 September 2015 – what an exciting day! It sees the launch of Ready Steady Mums (RSM) as a programme run by the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV).

Melita outdoors

Melita finding the great outdoors in her bag

Keep an eye out on social media this week for #Whatsinthebag as the iHV launches its new RSM programme with its #TriHV challenge team. This gritty group of health visitors completed the 170 mile very hilly coast-to-coast Way of the Roses charity cycle ride last weekend from Morecambe in Lancashire to Bridlington in Yorkshire. As a group of non-cyclists, they set themselves the goal of completing this gruelling challenge and, as a team, they completed it together. At the end of the ride, everyone was presented with a special goodie bag, not to be opened until Monday 28 September! So look out for #Whatsinthebag posts on Twitter or FaceBook to find out what they got in their goodie bags!

It’s so important when wanting to achieve a particular fitness benefit, to set yourself a goal, so why not set yourself your fitness goal and share it on the RSM blog at http://readysteadymums.org/set-fitness-goal


Ready Steady Mums, as many already know, is a national network of community activity groups to promote mums’ physical and emotional health. Now being led by the iHV, the new programme offers health visitors a proven tool to help mothers in their own local area overcome feelings of isolation and depression, whilst also improving their physical, social and emotional wellbeing.

In a new iHV survey of health visitors, 99% of them say it is important for health visitors to encourage mothers to take part in physical activity and 99% also agree that exercise can help maternal wellbeing and reduce mild/moderate postnatal depression. However, health visitors often report that they wish to do more about issues such as postnatal depression, and in the iHV survey 66% of them said, that they do not currently have the capacity to provide that support.

iHV’s leadership of RSM will provide health visitors with easy access to this great community-led programme. Its proven success in bringing mums together for gentle exercise and socialising can make a huge difference during pregnancy, the early days and weeks after birth. Many groups start off, and many stay, as a walking group around the local park with other mums and their buggies or prams. Some groups agree to develop their exercise and move on to other types of physical activity. So it’s not all about hard workouts with a physical trainer! Walking with other mums and their buggies is an easy way for all mums to get involved.

RSM, with iHV’s leadership and support, provides the social and community support that many health visitors find missing. So it’s a great way for health visitors to encourage mums to get together socially, while building exercise into the everyday routine. This is great, not only for health visiting, but also for local communities and for local authorities who are responsible for improving community heath.

So please do keep an eye out on social media this week for #Whatsinthebag as iHV launches its new programme Ready Steady Mums – and why not set yourself your fitness goal and share it on the RSM blog at http://readysteadymums.org/set-fitness-goal

What Ready Steady Mums means for Health Visiting and their famillies

The Institute of Health Visiting is very excited to launch the Ready Steady Mumsprogramme, for health visitors to promote physical, social and emotional health for mums. We all know that exercise is good for us, but it can be hard to get out with a new baby or toddler – and even harder if you don’t have a social circle. The Ready Steady Mums programme offers mums a free, volunteer led opportunity to get out and make new friends, while enjoying the health benefits which come from doing so.

Farnham Hospital and Woking Community Centre.

Farnham Hospital and Woking Community Centre.

Community development is a core part of health visiting practice and this programme offers an easy, off-the-shelf opportunity to make a real difference to your mum’s health. Better still, it will take very little health visitor time, so even if the service is stretched where you are, it’s still possible to set up. The programme can be very simple: mums coming together once a week to go for a walk or more sophisticated by doing some of the carefully-designed exercises suggested on the Ready Steady Mums website. Not only that, but the fantastic mums who created RSM are available to offer information and advice by email and will register local groups, so that other mums can find them on the website.

The programme works by health visitors identifying local mums who might like to start a group, directing them to the website, and then helping to promote the group to other mums when it is launched. Your role is to empower mums to become group leaders: then, they take over the responsibility. A local group could be started or joined by a pregnant mum, one with a baby or a toddler. From the testimonials received so far (and even better, the smiles on mums’ faces!) it is clear that Ready Steady Mums is a fantastic, easy way to build community assets, have fun and stay fit and healthy. Toddlers make friends too!

Find out more at: www.readysteadymums.org

Dr Cheryll Adams
Executive Director, Institute of Health Visiting