Women 'Do Not Exercise Enough'

British women are not exercising enough, according to new research.

According to research published by the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF), more than 80% of women are not exercising enough to benefit their health.

The study found that women aged between 16-24 were half as active as men of that age and warned that if trends continue, there would be one and quarter million fewer women exercising by 2017.

Sue Tibballs, WSFF Chief Executive, said: "There has been almost no change in the level of women's physical activity in the UK for the past 20 years and the forecasts show that the situation is getting worse. We are facing a real crisis in women's sport and fitness which will result in increasing obesity levels, physical and mental health issues and crime and social problems."

The research found that the most significant barriers to women being active are concerns about body image and negative experiences of sport in schools.

The study found that 90% of women felt under pressure to be thin, while almost half of women aged between 25-34 said that they felt under greater pressure to be thin than healthy.

A quarter of women said that they hated the way they looked when they exercised or played sport, while nearly a quarter of women said that PE at school put them off playing sports.

Meanwhile 40% of girls as young as seven did not want to be seen as "sporty".

Ms Tibballs said: "The way that women are portrayed in fashion and the media makes them feel greater pressure to be thin rather than fit. Girls are growing up believing that it is more important to be attractive than active with many women inhibited from exercising because of low body confidence. Sport is still seen by some women as unfeminine, and girls' earliest experiences of sport are often off-putting."

The research suggested that the key to encouraging women to participate more in sport and exercise was to recognise that they approach both activities differently to men. The study found that twice as many men than women play competitive sports, while six out of 10 women prefer to exercise.

Cameron Walker, Director of Corporate Communication for Scottish Widows, who sponsored the study, said: "We hope that this report will be a significant step towards generating solutions to the challenge of raising women's participation levels in sport and fitness, improving the lives of women and girls across the UK."


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