Pregnant women living in South Gloucestershire can continue to access free swimming as part of the partnership initiative between South Gloucestershire Council and Circadian Trust, the not-for-profit organisation operating the area’s Active Lifestyle Centres.
Following a successful pilot where 460 women accessed the scheme, the council has agreed with the Trust for the initiative to be put in place permanently. The offer aims to help empower people to make healthy choices and contribute to achieving a healthier population.
Swimming is a highly beneficial way to stay active during pregnancy and can be performed safely in all three trimesters. Widely recognised as a low-impact method of aerobic exercise, swimming provides a more comfortable environment for expectant mothers to maintain their physical health, as the water keeps them cool and supports the additional weight.
Maintaining a healthy weight and staying active during pregnancy has many health benefits including improved health-related quality of life, and a reduction in health-related complications for mother and baby.
This initiative will also help to tackle the effects of maternal obesity, where it is recognised that obesity during pregnancy increases the risk of adverse health outcomes for both mother and child. What’s more, obesity during pregnancy increases the risk of life-long health problems in children, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Councillor Franklin Owusu-Antwi, cabinet member responsible for public health and equality of opportunity at South Gloucestershire Council, said: “We want to do all we can to help encourage our residents to lead active and healthy lifestyles, which can be particularly important during key moments in their lives.
“We are delighted to be able to continue to offer this free service for all pregnant women in South Gloucestershire. We hope that by supporting expectant mothers to be active whilst pregnant, they will also continue to take part in regular exercise with their child or children throughout their early years.”
Mark Crutchley, Chief Executive at Circadian Trust, said: “We are delighted by the success of the pilot scheme. There are a vast number of physical and mental health benefits to exercising during pregnancy. So far, women who have participated in the scheme have benefited from over 1,700 free-swimming sessions.”
“As a charitable trust with health and wellbeing at its core, we’re committed to making exercise accessible to all. The successful uptake of this scheme means we can continue to offer this service to our local communities.”
To be eligible for the scheme, women will need to visit their local Active Lifestyle Centre and present their Maternity Notebook (yellow book), or Maternity Exemption Certificate, or MAT B1 (issued by their doctor or midwife) and will need to show proof of address before their first session.
Pregnant women can swim for free during any of the public sessions. Eligibility for free swimming ends three weeks after their due date.
Residents who are registered with a South Gloucestershire GP surgery, but live just outside the district, will also be considered eligible. In these cases, proof of registration with the GP surgery will also need to be shown to be signed up.
There are five Active Lifestyle Centres operated by Circadian Trust across South Gloucestershire – in Bradley Stoke, Kingswood, Longwell Green, Thornbury and Yate – and eligible customers will be able to access the sessions at any of the Centres. For more details on the swimming facilities, please visit https://activecentres.org/facilities/swimming/