The Active Breed Men's Health Program: Connecting Men To Health Through NRL

Since losing her father in 2007, Dr Emma George has dedicated her research to improving men’s physical and mental health. As a Senior Lecturer and researcher at Western Sydney University, Emma has combined her passion for research and her love of Rugby League to develop Active Breed – a 12-week men’s health program that empowers male football fans to improve their health. The program was co-created with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and South Western Sydney Primary Health Network and is the first of its kind to be delivered through the National Rugby League. For 12 weeks, men aged 35-64 years attend a weekly 90-minute education and physical activity session at the Bulldogs inner sanctum – Belmore Sports Ground. The program focuses on small, sustainable changes to health behaviours and provides practical skills to ensure positive changes can be maintained beyond the 12-week program. Education sessions are delivered by Active Breed coaches and local health experts and focus on men’s health, health service engagement and having a regular GP, physical activity, nutritional fitness, positive mental health and healthy relationships. These sessions are followed up with a game of touch footy on the hallowed turf of Belmore or a workout in the first-grade gym, under the watchful eye of accredited exercise scientists and Bulldogs club legends, Hazem El Masri or Terry Lamb. Along with her incredible team, Emma has been working tirelessly since 2016 to develop the Active Breed program, and over 100 men have participated in the program since its launch in 2018. Graduates have lost weight and reduced their waist circumference (both important indicators of chronic disease risk), are engaging in more individual and family physical activity, and are making more healthful decisions about their dietary intake, positively influencing their family’s dietary choices. Importantly, men who have participated in the program have also started open and honest conversations about their physical and mental health with health professionals, their partners, children and mates. The program’s success stems from the strong sense of camaraderie and belonging it offers, and graduates are invited back as mentors for new recruits. Once men join the Active Breed family, they are truly part of that for life. Links: Photo Repository:

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