One in three women in Britain are currently taking a break from exercise, with low confidence preventing them from restarting, research suggests.
A poll of more than 2,000 women for the exercise tracking app Strava and the This Girl Can health campaign found many had stopped exercising, with breaks lasting anywhere from one month to several years.
Asked if they were currently taking a break, 35% of all 2,026 respondents said they were, with the average stop being 13 months.
Overall, 69% of those currently on a break said they wanted to restart exercise, but nine in 10 of these said they faced challenges and obstacles.
The most common were a lack of confidence or poor body image (68%), lack of focus (39%), being judged by others (19%) and lack of support (9%).
Young people were likely to say their mental health held them back, while others suffered a lack of motivation and those with families said they found it hard to find the time.
More than four in 10 said they found returning to exercise difficult but a fifth said it was easy.
Strava and This Girl Can have now launched a Make Your Comeback campaign to help women have the confidence to return to the activities they once enjoyed.
Teddy Page, spokeswoman for Strava UK, said: “Finding motivation and seeking out a like-minded community has always been at the core of what Strava is about.
“We know getting started again can be challenging but through the power of community we want to show that breaks in activity are normal and there can be a joyful pathway back.”
Kate Dale, This Girl Can campaign lead, said: “Women tell us – and the data backs this up – that they want to get active again, even if they’ve taken a break.
“The physical and mental health benefits of being active are profound, but millions of women are missing out on these for months or even years.
“This Girl Can Club on Strava will provide a supportive and judgment-free space to build women’s confidence to take that first step and start again. We want to help women to make the first move and celebrate their comeback, regardless of their fitness levels or how long it’s been.
“It’s not what you used to be able to do that matters – it’s what you can do right now.”
Women are invited to visit bit.ly/StravaTGCclub