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Exercise inequalities leave millions of women inactive

Exercise inequalities leave millions of women inactive back to News

Sport England has today launched the latest phase of its This Girl Can campaign, Fit Got Real, which aims to tackle the inequalities in levels of exercise between different social groups of women.

The latest Active Lives Adult Survey[i] from Sport England highlights these imbalances, with women in lower paid, routine jobs almost twice as likely to be inactive (doing less than 30 minutes of exercise a week) compared to women in senior and managerial roles (33.5% compared to 17.7%).  The survey also showed significant differences in activity levels amongst women of different ethnicities, with women of a South Asian background (36%) and black women (29.4%) more likely to be inactive than white British women (25.3%).

Sport England research[ii] shows that a mix of practical and emotional pressures, such as lack of time, fear of judgement and lack of confidence, prevent many women from being as active as they would like. The insights also highlight that many of these pressures come from the way marketing, the media and TV often portray exercise as being for women who have the money to afford gym memberships, expensive sports clothes or plenty of free time.

The campaign is looking to inspire and motivate women with its new Fit Got Real film by showing real women of different ages and ethnicities doing exercise their own way – whether that is running around a park pushing their child in a pram, hula hooping at home or teaching themselves how to swim using YouTube – and sharing the message that no matter how unconventional, it all counts as exercise.

Jennie Price, Chief Executive of Sport England comments: “There are some stark inequalities when it comes to different levels of exercise amongst women in England. Many of the pressures of modern life do not make it easy for women to have the confidence and motivation to be active. The health and wellbeing benefits of being active should be available to all women, and that is why we have a new message – Fit Got Real – to celebrate the creative and often unconventional ways many women are fitting exercise into their busy lives.”

Caroline, 36, who stars in the new film, comments: “As a full time carer I rarely have time to myself and am often under a lot of pressure both emotionally and physically. At the end of the day, I always felt I was either too tired, didn’t have enough time or wasn’t motivated enough to exercise. But, one day I realised how important it was (for my mental and physical health) to spend some time on myself and, with the help of my friends and support groups in the community, I could see a way out! Rather than spending half an hour watching TV, I now get out to a dance class or over to the trampoline classes at the local community centre. With added daily pressures of work and family commitments, I completely understand how easy it is to get into a routine of not doing much exercise, but I feel so much happier and healthier from being more active. Even it’s a quick run up and down the garden it’s better than nothing!”

Having already inspired almost 3 million women[iii] to be more active since launching in 2015, This Girl Can’s new campaign is designed to appeal to an even wider range of women by showing images and telling stories of the realities of getting active for many women.

Along with the new adverts and online film, This Girl Can’s website and social channels will showcase women talking about how they fit exercise into their lives, why they like it and the negative perceptions and barriers they overcame to be more active.

For more information about This Girl Can’s Fit Got Real campaign, please visit: www.thisgirlcan.co.uk

The new Fit Got Real film is available to view and download here.

[i] Sport England Active Lives Adult Survey 2018 of 185,000 adults aged 16 and over: https://www.sportengland.org/media/13563/active-lives-adult-may-17-18-report.pdf

[ii] TGC campaign research and evaluation including the TGC Tracker Survey (Nov 2017 and qualitative research with women from the target groups (September 2018)

[iii] 32% of women aged 14-60 that recognise the campaign report taking sporting action as a result (equivalent to 2.9 million women in England)   – TGC Tracker Survey (Nov 2017).

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Posted on 26th October 2018