About 9 out of 10 women over the age of 30 shy away from outdoor exercise due to low body-confidence and self-esteem, according to new statistics released by the UK mental health charity Mind.
Instead, many women choose to exercise at night to minimize the chance of being seen, or they simply avoid outdoor exercise altogether.
According to Mind, which seeks to promote good mental health and reduce stigma of mental distress, these avoidance tactics are unfortunate since outdoor exercise can be as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression and anxiety and is increasingly being prescribed as a form of therapy.
Researchers surveyed 1,450 women and found that when feeling depressed, women were more likely to choose the following activities over exercising: eat comfort food (71 percent), listen to sad music (32 percent), spend time social networking (57 percent), go to bed (66 percent), or find a way to be alone (71 percent).
The survey also revealed:
In response to these feelings, many women have taken extreme steps to reduce the risk of embarrassment:
“We all know that walking, cycling, even gardening are good for our mental health, however, for many of us exercising in the great outdoors can be incredibly daunting, especially if already feeling low and self-confidence is at rock bottom,” said Beth Murphy, head of information at MIND.
“At these times you can feel like the only person in the world experiencing this, but Mind’s research highlights that far from being alone, 90 percent of women are in exactly the same boat. It’s time we start talking about how exercise makes us feel. We urge women to take the first step, invite a friend on a nature date and begin to support each other in taking care of our mental well-being.”