This Girl Can

Sarah’s just come back from a great 30 minute mid-morning run outdoors. Exhausted but triumphant! Her goal is to get outside 4 times a week and run through the parks and countryside near her home. It helps maintain her body weight, plus nature’s views and sounds are mentally stimulating and her spirits are lifted when she finishes the run. She works from home so it’s also an excellent, healthy break from sitting at her desk.

Does reading this leave you feeling exhausted as you sit staring at your computer screen? Yes? Would you also like to start some form of exercise but just haven’t got the energy or the time? For most women, the reason they are holding back taking part in a sport, joining a gym or even exercising at home is not just because of a lack of energy or time but due to a fear of being judged. They fear people will judge their ability, their appearance and even, if they are a mother, that they are putting their own needs above those of their children.

It’s a fact that 40% of women are not active enough to get the full health benefit of exercise. This compares with 35% of men. The Chief Medical Officer’s guidance says it's important to do more than 150 minutes of, at least, moderate intensity activity a week, but currently 1.3 million more women miss this target than men. A Sport England study found that 75% of women surveyed would like to exercise more, so in 2015 they started the National Lottery funded campaign 'This Girl Can' to get more women exercising regardless of their ability, size or shape.

No matter what, there are already women out there getting active, doing what they can to fit more exercise into their lives. Yes, they are all shapes and sizes, some with great sporting talent, some with very little. They’re from all backgrounds. ‘This Girl Can’ “celebrates active women who are doing their thing no matter how they look, how well they do it or how sweaty they get”...Sport England.

In October 2018, building on the success of its first phase (where the campaign encouraged nearly three million women to get more active), ‘This Girl Can’ released a new phase: ‘Fit Got Real’. This new phase is focussed on reaching out to women from all backgrounds and ethnicities who feel traditional types of exercise do not appeal them and help them understand how to fit exercise into their lives.

Their website includes photos of real women running up stairs, doing sit-ups in their front room, hola hooping in the kitchen, swimming at the local pool, running with their dog. Many are mothers working 9 to 5 so may not realise that going for a brisk walk at lunch time or using the stairs instead of the lifts is a way of fitting some valid exercise into their lives. Some full time mums and carers find the cost of gym membership, or even the time to visit a gym, prohibitive so why not do chair triceps dips, table top press ups and living room wall sits in your own home…no gym needed.

‘This Girl Can’ has no doubt that if the activity you are doing gets your heart rate up then it’s a great activity to incorporate as part of your lifestyle. Fit it in when and wherever you can just as Sarah, our mid-morning runner, did at the top of this post.