With new research showing that 61% of mums would feel guilty about taking time to exercise, This Girl Can is encouraging mothers to prioritise exercise.
A survey conducted by Opinium for us, showed that a lack of time is keeping busy mums from exercising, with 30% reporting to have less than an hour free to themselves per day.
But with almost 70% of mothers thinking it is important for their children to see them exercising, and our data showing that mothers have a greater influence on their children’s activity levels than fathers, This Girl Can has released a series of new tips, advice and home workout ideas on social media.
The survey also showed that, outside of work, mothers said they were most likely to prioritise tasks revolving around family, such as spending time with them, housework and cooking, but only 17% of the 1,006 respondents prioritised their own exercise.
77% of mums want to do more exercise
“Our insights show that children with active parents – particularly mothers – are more likely to be active themselves,” said our executive director for insight, Lisa O’Keefe.
“And children who have positive experiences of sport and physical activity early on are also more likely to prioritise being active in later life.
“This Girl Can’s social media community is a fantastic place to find tips, support and advice for mums looking for ideas to fit exercise into their busy lives because we know with school runs, children’s parties and home life, time is short and many women tell us they feel guilty spending it exercising.
“All of us have a role to play in making mums feel okay about prioritising getting active as they would other things in their lives.
"Whether that’s dads, partners, friends and family, with words of encouragement or a helping hand, we're all in this together.”
As part of the latest phase of the This Girl Can campaign, they have partnered with LES MILLS On Demand to offer a 21-day free trial to their home workouts, including a tailored introductory This Girl Can workout programme for those women who are new or returning to exercise.
By being active themselves, parents, particularly mothers, can have a positive influence on their children’s activity levels by simply normalising exercise as a part of everyday life – helping children develop a positive early relationship with being active.
All of us have a role to play in making mums feel okay about prioritising getting active
Lisa O'Keefe, our executive director of insight
But mum Natalie Lee, also known as influencer Style Me Sunday, knows it is not always that easy.
“Feeling guilty and motherhood are undoubtedly synonymous,” she said. “Exercise is another thing on the long list of stuff to feel guilty about. However I'm a very big believer in not being able to pour from an empty cup.
“Exercise makes me a better person, it improves my mental health and helps to alleviate my stress.
“So, it's important for me to prioritise my fitness, which in turn benefits everyone, especially my family.
"This has been a long learning curve for me, because there was always an excuse not to exercise – feeling guilty about not being with them or not doing what they wanted to do is a great one.
“Only in the past couple of years or so have I fully understood how important exercise is for all of us.”
21% of mums said the cost of keeping fit was a key inhibitor to staying active
This Girl Can has already inspired four million women to take action since its inception in 2015, whether it be trying a new sport, restarting an activity or talking to friends about the campaign.
And psychologist Emma Kenny says the new research sends a strong message to mums about the importance of self-care.
“You may believe that looking after everyone else’s needs is your main priority, but the truth is that you need to take care of yourself first and foremost, because that ensures you have the energy to look after those you love,” she said.
“The best thing about being a healthy and active mum is how it translates to your children.”
The new resources and partnership with LES MILLS On Demand has also been welcomed by Minister for Sport and Civil Society, Mims Davies.
"This research makes clear just how influential mums can be on their children’s physical activity levels, which is so important for mental wellbeing, educational outcomes and development of important life skills like teamwork and leadership," she said.
"I truly believe these new tools and inspirational events like the ongoing Women's World Cup can encourage even more people to get active and stay active right across the nation.”