Informational Articles

The Shocking Reason Women Are Less Active Than Men

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Some days, getting your butt to barre class feels harder than others. You’re tired, you haven’t been to the grocery store in a week, and happy hour seems so much more fun—the list of excuses is long. But as it turns out, the biggest barrier keeping women from the gym might have more to do with physical hang-ups than social calendars and to-do lists.

Dartmouth University researchers launched a study to look at the barriers standing between women and physical activity (women tend to be less active than men—not cool), and they found that those barriers can be heavily affected by the number on the scale (even less cool).

For the study, the researchers split a group of women into different weight classes based on their BMIs. Each group was then asked a series of questions about their physical activity and things that keep them from getting active using two different questionnaire methods. First, the researchers used a traditional survey approach using pre-worded questions. Then, they administered a second open-ended survey where participants could write their own responses.

The findings, published in the journal Public Health, showed that when constrained to a given set of responses, women across weight classes cited lack of self-discipline as the main reason they skipped out on sweat sessions. But something interesting happened when the women were allowed to write in their own barriers: the higher a woman’s BMI, the more likely she was to cite physical concerns like injury or body hang-ups like just being overweight.

In other words, it can become a depressing downward spiral: skipping out on your physical activity can lead to weight gain, which can make getting to the gym even harder. If you’re feeling down on your body, remind yourself how awesome you always feel after a good workout. Works. Every. Time.

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