The embarrassment that prevents many of us from exercising | Women's Agenda

The embarrassment that prevents many of us from exercising

When it comes to being active, women aren’t doing enough.

Around 60% of us are not meeting the standard of being ‘sufficiently active’ — that being participating in more than 30 minutes of physical activity at least four or more days a week. One in five of us do no physical activity at all.

A lack of time is obviously a factor — with the rate of exercise dropping significantly when women have kids.

But also in the way is confidence, embarrassment and a fear of judgement.

Today, VicHealth has released preliminary results of a study of 2500 Victorians that found 41% of women feel too embarrassed to exercise in public, compared with 26% of men.

The survey also found 39% of women believe they are not physically coordinated, compared with 24% of men.

But then 72% of women feel good about themselves when doing exercise, and 70% of us feel comfortable in exercise clothing (there’s a good reason why activewear’s creeping into shopping malls, trips to the dentist and even co-working spaces).

The idea that a fear of judgement might be preventing some women from exercising is a cause for concern. It’s also something we can work together to help overcome by aiming to support and encourage more women in pursuing physical activity.

In the UK, a campaign called This Girl Can, funded by The National Lottery and developed by Sport England, celebrates active women no matter their size, age or background, (or how sweaty and red-faced they get).

The campaign’s focus is to help women overcome any fears of judgement that might be holding women and girls back from getting active. The social media platforms and website share a number of diverse stories of women participating in everything from kickboxing to roller derby, cycling and running.

It’s so far encouraged 2.8 million women to get active since launching, according to Sport England CEO, Jennie Price.

Now, VicHealth is bringing the same initiative to Australia.

Launched this morning at Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, the Victorian version of This Girl Can, will showcase real women getting active regardless of their ability, fitness level, or how they look.

It’s the first time the program’s been launched outside of England, and Sport England CEO, Jennie Price is in Australia to get the ball rolling.

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter, has urged women to get involved by sharing their stories of being active in order to be a part of the campaign, and to possibly feature in upcoming commercials.

She said their research proves too many Victorian women still feel intimidated and embarrassed about taking part in sport and exercise. She wants to see more of us overcoming concerns about how we look while exercising, to build confidence in developing skills, and move past feeling that we must always prioritise family or work over being active.

Jennie Price added that the Australian version of the program will be aided by insights from the campaign in England. From Melbourne, she’s keen to roll it out to as many countries as possible. “The ultimate goal for this campaign is to let girls grow up in a world where there is no fear of being active.”

Check out the UK version’s latest ad below:


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