New campaign encourages mums to take a small step to getting more active

New campaign encourages mums to take a small step to getting more active

Bristol Girls Can, a project that aims to break down barriers to exercise and encourage women to have fun getting active, is springing into action with a new campaign.

2 February 2022

Launching this month (February 2022), the new Small Steps campaign has been developed by Bristol Girls Can, working alongside a group of mums and staff from South Bristol Children’s Centre.

Small Steps is reaching out to mums of young children in all areas of the city, inspiring, encouraging and supporting them to take small steps towards being more active.

The message of the campaign is to start small and do what works for you - whether it is a walk around the block, 10 minutes of hula hooping, or a kitchen disco while cooking the tea – it all counts and it can be fun.

You don’t need a gym membership or expensive gear to give it a go. If you have young children at home, exercising with them still counts and can help establish healthy habits for life.

Bristol Girls Can is part of the national This Girl Can campaign, developed and funded by Sport England and delivered locally by Bristol City Council’s Public Health Team.

Councillor Ellie King, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Public Health, Communities and Bristol One City, said:

“This campaign gives a voice to a diverse group of Bristol mums from less affluent areas of the city who are overcoming barriers to exercise in whatever way works for them. The Small Steps campaign uses real stories and empowering photos to challenge our view of what women being active look like. By sharing these stories, Bristol Girls Can hopes to inspire women from across the city to take their own small steps and feel the benefits of becoming more active.”

The Small Steps campaign focusses on mums in response to Sport England research which found that motherhood unfortunately has a mostly negative impact on women’s activity levels.

Local data* shows women report lower levels of physical activity than men, and women living in the most deprived areas of the city are even less likely to be active.

Research carried out for the project by the University of Bristol found the COVID-19 pandemic has made keeping active even tougher for mums who were already facing barriers to exercise, such as time, cost and childcare. As a result, fitting in time for self-care and regular exercise is sometimes at the bottom of their priority list.

Esther, who stays active by skipping in her back garden in Avonmouth, will be appearing on billboards around the city as part of the campaign. She has also made a short film for the project telling her story. Esther said:

“I skip because it is a quick workout, I can do it in my back garden and don’t need to have someone babysit my son. I find exercise really beneficial, not just physically but also for my mental health. I try to get out a lot with my son to the park and take walks in the woods, so even if it doesn’t get me sweaty, I am happy to be out and about and not sitting on the couch.”

Laura, a mum of two, turned her life around when she started jogging alongside her daughters on the school run in Bishopsworth. Laura said:

“I was terrified of exercising – it was for other people. When I got diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, I realised things had hit critical. At nearly 23 stone, I took the first step. I began to walk quickly, then jog, building it up slowly.

“Our school run is perfect – two miles up to four times a day. I’m not fit-bodied or Lycra-clad, but I am running. And I’ve discovered that the fear of what others would think of me was far more to do with me than them. For me now, it’s all about the feeling I get from exercise. My focus isn’t about being slim, it’s being healthy as well as having fun.”

Photos celebrating all the mums involved in the campaign and their stories are featured on the Bristol Girls Can website alongside a new activity guide with advice for taking that first small step.

The project is also funding Small Steps activities for mums to take part in together with their children, at Children’s Centres across South Bristol. These include Buggy Walk and Talk, Toddler Yoga and Boogie Disco sessions.

To find out more and get involved visit or join the Facebook community at Bristol Girls Can.

*Local data provided by the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) Health & Wellbeing Profile 2021/2022 (pdf, 314KB) (opens new window)

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