6 In 10 Mums Feel Guilty About Taking Time To Exercise

"The truth is that you need to take care of yourself first."

When you’ve got the school run, hungry mouths to feed and work to contend with, exercise can slip to the bottom of the priorities pile.

In fact, six in 10 mothers (61%) feel guilty about taking time out to exercise instead of being with their family, despite the fact more than three-quarters of mums (77%) want to work out more.

The survey of more than 1,000 mothers of children under the age of six found “lack of time” was the top reason given for not doing exercise, according to the findings from Sport England.

Three in 10 women said they had less than an hour of free time each day, and one in five said cost was the main thing preventing them from staying active.

Fewer than one in five mothers (17%) said they prioritise their own exercise when asked about their habits by the This Girl Can campaign, which was set up to encourage all women to enjoy physical activity.

When asked to name their top priorities outside of work, mums were most likely to prioritise tasks revolving around family such as spending time with them (56%), housework (53%), or cooking (28%). Just one in five (17%) mothers said they prioritised their own exercise.

Lisa O’Keefe, insight director at Sport England, said: “Children with active parents – particularly mothers – are more likely to be active themselves. And children who have positive experiences of sport and physical activity early on are also more likely to prioritise being active in later life.

“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. ”

Psychologist Emma Kenny said the research highlights the importance of self-care. “As a mum, you may believe that looking after everyone else’s needs is your main priority,” she said. “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.”