Mums with young children say exercising makes them 'feel guilty'
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Mums with young children say exercising makes them 'feel guilty'

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The research sends a strong message to mums about the importance of self-care
– Emma Kenny

A majority of mothers do not exercise because it makes them feel guilty about not spending time with their children.

A Sport England study of 1,006 mothers with young children – aged six or younger – reveals that 61 per cent of mums said exercising made them worry they were neglecting their responsibilities.

On a list of priorities, most mums placed family, cooking and housework ahead of keeping fit.

The survey also showed that a lack of time is keeping busy mums from exercising, with 30 per cent reporting to have less than an hour free to themselves per day.

Another finding was that nearly 70 per cent of mothers feel it is important for their children to see them exercising. This view is supported by previous Sport England data, which shows that mothers have a greater influence on their children’s activity levels than fathers.

According to TV psychologist Emma Kenny, the 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.”

Sports minister Mims Davies added: "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."

Sport England is now looking to use the survey to provide mothers of young children targeted help and tips on exercising through its This Girl Can campaign.

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