Women Are Not Getting Enough Exercise — and It's Harming Their Mental Health

When regularly exercising, women reported feeling more happy, energetic, and confident, according to the global Move Her Mind report

<p>Getty</p> Stock image of woman running


Stock image of woman running

Women aren’t getting enough exercise — and it’s harming their mental health.

According to the largest global study on the exercise gender gap, there is a direct link between a woman’s level of activity and her state of mind.

Specifically, women reported feeling 52% happier, 48% more confident and 50% more energized when exercising regularly compared with when they were not, according to the Move Her Mind study, which was commissioned by ASICS and surveyed nearly 25,000 people and conducted 26 focus groups around the world.

Researchers also found that exercise helped women deal with negative emotions more effectively, with them reporting feeling 67% more stressed and 80% more frustrated when not exercising regularly.

<p>Courtesy of ASICS</p> Woman exercising

Courtesy of ASICS

Woman exercising

Related: New Study Finds Physical Fitness Can Improve Mental Health in Children and Young Adults

But unfortunately, women are struggling to prioritize this type of self-care.

“Regardless of their level of activity, women are facing barriers to being as active as they would like to be,” study lead Dr. Dee Dlugonski said in the report.

Not having enough time to exercise was cited by more than half of the women surveyed. The most common obstacles were too many other commitments at 76% and not enough time at 74%.

Related: Selena Gomez Reflects on How Mental Health ‘Means So Much’ at Rare Beauty Summit

And kids play a big role, too: More than 60% of women admitted that motherhood was the primary reason they stopped exercising regularly, with activity levels at their lowest during childbearing and child-rearing years.

“Many women reported experiencing gendered expectations that impacted the time they had free to either exercise or play sport,” Dlugonski said.

“Caregiving roles, such as caring for children, elders or conducting other household responsibilities, were particularly salient barriers reported by women in the quantitative and qualitative data.”

But even as their kids grew older, moms weren't necessarily jumping back into exercise, with more than half of women saying they experienced a decrease in exercise as they aged. Some even stopped completely. The two leading reasons were not enough time and work, highlighting how other commitments and women’s careers are forcing them out of leading an active lifestyle. 

<p>Courtesy of ASICS</p> ASICS GEL-CUMULUS 26

Courtesy of ASICS


To highlight the connection between movement and positive mental health, and to commemorate Mental Health Awareness Month, ASICS is releasing a limited edition shoe with green detail, the official color of mental health awareness. For each pair of the GEL-CUMULUS 26 sold in May, ASICS will donate $3 to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization.

“At ASICS, we keep our founding principle of ‘Sound Mind, Sound Body’ at the center of everything we do,” said Koichiro Kodama, President and CEO of ASICS North America, in a press release. “The launch of our limited edition GEL-CUMULUS® 26 shoe is a reminder of the power of movement to uplift our minds. And, we are honored that every shoe sold will make a difference through our partner, NAMI.”

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