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Rugby tackles men’s health and wellbeing

ConnectSport is official media partner for the European Healthy Stadia Conference at the Emirates Stadium on April 27. At the Conference, Premiership Rugby will present on the ‘Move Like a Pro’ programme which is supporting rugby union clubs to tackle inactivity and wellbeing issues amongst middle-aged men. Connie Potter, Charity Partnerships and Programme Manager for Premiership Rugby, explains how the programme works.

What is the ‘Move Like a Pro’ programme, and what was Movember Foundation’s involvement in it?

“Move Like A Pro is a 14-week health and wellbeing programme run across Premiership Rugby clubs. It offers both classroom and activity-based health interventions, including those related to levels of physical activity, diet changes, social connectedness and mental wellbeing.

“Movember Foundation are the funding partner for Move Like A Pro and the programme is directly linked to Movember’s vision of having an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health.  A world where men live happier, healthier and longer lives, starts with simply moving.”

The programme combines physical activity with healthy eating. Why was this combination especially important amongst your target audience?

“The audience targeted by Move Like A Pro is men aged between 35 and 65 and with a BMI (body mass index) of over 28. Across the UK, 67% of middle-aged men are overweight or obese, and are twice as likely to develop diabetes than women of the same age. Around 75% of premature deaths from heart disease are male, and the scale of the men’s health challenge does not stop there.  Men’s levels of mental wellbeing are typically lower than women’s over the age of 40, and four in five suicides are male.

“As the driving force behind a sport with a fanbase fitting largely into this demographic, Premiership Rugby was keen to use its reach and profile to design a programme to make men healthier, happier and more active. Research shows that in order to make long-term lifestyle changes that will improve the statistics above, both physical activity and healthy eating are important factors.”

Participants can win points for their clubs. Is this something which appeals to the audience?

“There are two elements to Move Like A Pro; a 12-week club-based programme and an online programme. As part of the online programme participants are able to win points for their club to help their club reach the top of the leaderboard. This ‘gamification’ of the programme was designed to hook in the competitive nature of this demographic and to keep participants returning to the site and completing the whole 12-week programme as they push themselves and their teams to top the leaderboard.”

What is the attraction of staging the programme actually at the clubs? Does this help with engagement and retention?

“The programme is aimed at rugby fans and is promoted at matchdays and through the clubs’ communication channels. The chance to get ‘behind the scenes’ access is a great asset and key influencer in getting men to sign up to the programme. As we expand the programme we’ll begin to deliver at other sites as we know that ease of, and time spent, travelling to/from sessions is also key to engaging and retaining participants. We will maintain the behind-the-scenes access with a couple of sessions being delivered at clubs or training facilities and player ambassadors coming along to sessions.”

We know that University of Glasgow are evaluating the programme. How will you report back on its impact and effectiveness, and what else is planned for the future?

“We’ll be using the evaluation of the programme to make plans for the full roll-out of Move Like a Pro across all 12 Premiership Rugby clubs, as we’ve been through the pilot phase so far. The evaluation looked at everything from structure of sessions, to recruitment and then obviously the effectiveness of the programme against key outcomes. This means there are a number of learnings that we can build into the programme as we strive to learn from our experience and improve our activities.”

Follow @premrugby #MoveLikeAPro and @healthystadia #HSConf2017 on Twitter.

Click here to book your place at the European Healthy Stadia Conference 2017.

Read the Conference programme.

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