Background: Women's physical activity levels decline during their transition to parenthood. Facebook is widely used by Australian mothers and provides the opportunity to target social networks in order to maintain and increase physical activity.
Method: This mixed method study aimed to pilot and assess the usability of the Mums Step It Up Facebook app, a new team-based physical activity intervention for mothers with young children. A purposive sample of five "Captain" women with young children, were recruited through personal contacts. These women used the app to recruit 3-7 Facebook friends (with children under 5) to join their respective teams (total n = 25). The app encourages women to take 10,000 steps a day measured by a pedometer. Women used the app for 28 days to log steps, interact with team mates and monitor progress. Physical activity was assessed at two time points (baseline and final week) using the Active Australia Survey. Usability testing with the five "Captain" women took place over two one hour face-to-face sessions. A questionnaire seeking feedback on the app was completed at time point two.
Results: Participants' total physical activity increased by an average of 177 minutes per week (p = 0.01). The complexity of the team forming process and issues using the Facebook environment, where a variety of devices and software platforms are used, was highlighted.
Discussion: A team-based Facebook app shows considerable promise for the recruitment and retention of participants to a social network-based physical activity intervention. A randomised controlled trial to further evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention is warranted.