Promoting Physical Activity During and After Pregnancy: Implementing the Move Your Way® Campaign with a Focus on Maternal Health

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Each May, HHS celebrates National Women’s Health Week — a weeklong health observance led by the Office on Women’s Health (OWH). This week serves as a reminder for women and girls to make their health a priority and take care of themselves throughout their lives. In collaboration with OWH, ODPHP recently expanded the Move Your Way® campaign to include resources about physical activity during and after pregnancy. In 2021, ODPHP is working with the Siouxland District Health Department (SDHD) on a focused campaign to help share these new resources with parents and parents-to-be.  

During and after pregnancy, many new and expectant parents focus on their health and the health of their baby. Being physically active during and after pregnancy has many short- and long-term health benefits — from improved sleep to reduced risk of gestational diabetes, postpartum depression, and other health conditions. Unfortunately, data indicate that less than 25% of people meet the recommendations in the Physical Activity Guidelines during pregnancy. The Move Your Way maternal health resources aim to change this statistic.  

“Partnering with ODPHP and the Move Your Way pilot communities, like Sioux City, is an important step in improving women’s health during and after pregnancy. Together, we are discovering creative and effective ways to reach this important population. We can share these strategies, along with the Move Your Way resources, with communities across the United States,” says Dorothy Fink, MD, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Women’s Health and Director of OWH. 

ODPHP’s formative research found that for both pregnant and postpartum participants, feeling tired or uncomfortable and being too busy were major barriers to physical activity. Participants across groups also emphasized the uniqueness of each pregnancy and postpartum experience — and said they preferred physical activity messages that highlight this uniqueness. Reflecting these preferences, the Move Your Way campaign materials promote the benefits of physical activity, emphasize finding activities that work for individuals and their schedules, and offer strategies for overcoming common barriers to physical activity. 

Sioux City’s Maternal Health-Focused Move Your Way Events 

SDHD is dedicated to increasing physical activity for residents of Sioux City, Iowa. After helping ODPHP pilot the Move Your Way campaign in 2020, SDHD shifted its campaign focus onto a single priority population: people during and after pregnancy. To launch the focused campaign, SDHD held an online “baby shower” where team members shared information about physical activity with attendees, demonstrated specific exercises, and hosted a question and answer session with a local nurse practitioner.  

People gather around a table with Move Your Way materials on it Caption: Sharing information at the Move Your Way Stroller 5K
Sharing information at the Move Your Way Stroller 5K.

Building momentum throughout the month of March, SDHD partnered with a local health club to offer free memberships to an online fitness platform that highlighted classes ideal for getting active during and after pregnancy. Earlier this month, attendees at Sioux City’s Healthy Kids Day were able to join in the Move Your Way Stroller 5K. Whether walking, running, or rolling, participants kept track of physical activity facts and trivia questions posted along the 3.1-mile course — and entered their responses for a chance to win prizes that support active lifestyles. SDHD’s plans for the summer and fall feature additional events to promote Move Your Way, including yoga and water aerobics classes and a family swim event. 

Working with Local Health Care Providers to Spread the Word 

Formative research for the Move Your Way campaign showed that health care providers are a trusted source of physical activity and health information, especially for people during and after pregnancy. Knowing this, the team at SDHD has delivered over 2,000 Move Your Way bags — each including a Move Your Way fact sheet, as well as a water bottle, onesie, and exercise band with the Move Your Way logo — to local health care providers and women’s health care facilities. Local doctors, nurses, midwives, and other health care providers will be giving a bag to every new and expectant parent in the greater Siouxland area. Health care providers will be encouraging their patients to be active during and after pregnancy and providing the support and information along the way. 

A Move Your Way Drawstring Bag, Folder, Factsheet, and Frisbee
Move Your Way bags provide resources for parents-to-be.

“These new partnerships are so important to SDHD’s ability to reach our priority population,” says Michelle Lewis, Health Promotion and Planning Coordinator at SDHD. “The enthusiastic engagement from the medical providers will allow us to reach so many pregnant and postpartum women in Sioux City.”  

ODPHP will be supporting Sioux City throughout the campaign. One of the ways that ODPHP will further reinforce the message that physical activity during and after pregnancy is safe and healthy is through ongoing social media and traditional advertising. ODPHP video advertisements will play in doctors’ offices and health care clinic waiting rooms throughout Sioux City. These complementary efforts will allow parents and parents-to-be to see and hear the Move Your Way messages multiple times and in multiple places, a strategy that has proven to be effective during the Move Your Way pilot campaigns.   

 

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