It is interesting that there is such a gap, in the UK at least, between regular exercise participation for men and women. Girls start to stop being active in their teenage years and the decline continues. Infact, according to Sport England, two million more men than women exercise or play sport regularly in the UK. I’ll be visiting this theme in more depth in the future but suffice to say that this does not represent the desire to be active on the part of us women: Sport England research indicated that 75% of women would like to do more physical activity.
The recent and excellent ‘This Girl Can’ (www.thisgirlcan.co.uk) campaign aimed to address one of the main problems: the mistaken feeling that girls and women should feel inhibited by being sweaty, competitive, daring, or by just liking being active. In other words, the campaign encourages girls to be themselves.
I’m on a mission to stop women feeling worried about being judged as the wrong size, not fit enough or not skilled enough to be more active and actually IMPROVE their quality of life. It worries me that the media continues to make a negative issue of women in traditionally male sports, whilst, at the same time, maintaining the pressure on us to be thin. The pressure on some women to be ‘modest’ can be interpreted as not sporty—another concern.
There is nothing inherently ‘male’ about being active: we take on cues that tailor our behaviour to fit what we think people expect of us.
Being more active leads to better health and this leads to the confidence to do more with one’s life. If you can walk further you can stop worrying about getting to your destination without feeling worn out. Importantly, being fitter means having more confidence in the way you interact with other people. Ultimately you have more freedom to be the real you.
As a coach who works with both men and women, it makes my day when I see people discover more freedom through adopting a healthier, fitter lifestyle. These people definitely can.