Six in 10 mothers feel guilty about taking time out to exercise instead of being with their family, new research has suggested.
More than three-quarters of mothers (77%) want to do more exercise, but 61% would feel bad about taking the time out for themselves, according to figures from Sport England.
The survey of 1,006 mothers of children under the age of six found that lack of time was the top reason given for not doing exercise.
Three in 10 of the women questioned 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 want women of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities to engage in physical activity.
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 emphasises the importance of “self-care”.
She said: “As a mum, you may believe that looking after everyone else’s needs is your main priority, but the truth is that you need to look after everyone else first and foremost, because that ensures you have the energy to look after those you love.”