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Nine out of 10 women too shy to get fit outdoors

IT'S good news for the celebrity fitness DVD industry, if no one else. More than half of the women who took part in a survey are too embarrassed about their bodies to exercise in public.

Nine out of 10 women over 30 have low self-esteem and poor body image, which forces many of them to exercise indoors or go running in the dark.

The findings, by the mental health charity, Mind, are particularly unfortunate because outdoor exercise is known to be far more effective at improving mood and mental wellbeing than an indoor workout.

"We all know walking, cycling, even gardening are good for our mental health," said Beth Murphy, the head of information at Mind. "However, for many of us, exercising outdoors can be incredibly daunting, especially if you are already feeling low and your self-confidence is at rock bottom.

"At these times you can feel like the only person in the world experiencing this, but our research highlights that far from being alone, 90pc of women are in exactly the same boat. It is 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 wellbeing."

More than half of the 1,450 women surveyed said they exercised very early in the morning or late at night, solely to avoid being seen by others.


Nearly two-thirds said they exercised in a location where they were unlikely to bump into anyone they knew, and a similar proportion said they wore baggy clothing to conceal their figures.

Gym classes are also a no-go area, it seems. Two-thirds of women said they did not think they would be able to keep up in an exercise group, that they would look silly, or that the women there would be "cliquey" and unwelcoming.

Some 60pc were nervous about exhibiting themselves while sweaty, and were worried about their "wobbly bits", passing wind or going red. Only 6pc thought they would be likely to make new friends.

Therapists are increasingly prescribing outdoor exercise as a way to fight stress and depression.