As Half of Women Drop Out of Exercise, Here's Why You Should Make It a Priority


By Gemma Yates

The irony is not lost on us that the theme for this year's International Women's Day is "inspire inclusion", yet recent statistics from an Asics study on the gender exercise gap revealed over half of women are not exercising as much as they would like to be, with 51% decreasing or stopping exercising completely.

Led by Dr Dee Dlugonski and Professor Brendon Stubbs, the report found that 56% of women are currently unhappy with their exercise levels, with the UK coming 22nd out of 26 countries surveyed in terms of satisfaction.

The biggest barriers to exercise were lack of time (74%), other commitments (76%), low self-confidence (55%) and not feeling sporty or fit enough (42%). Almost two-thirds of mothers cited motherhood as the main reason for dropping out of exercise,while employed women and homemakers were also less likely to exercise. Unsurprisingly, only 34% of men recognised time as a barrier to exercise for women (LOL).

In more positive news, the study found a direct link between women's physical activity levels and their state of mind. 52% felt happier when they exercised, 50% more energised, 48% more confident, 41% more able to switch off and 36% more sharp.

We know that when you're busy, exercise is often the first thing to go to the bottom of the priority pile, especially if you're a parent or caregiver. But arguably, it's the thing that would benefit you most during times of stress. Not only did the Asics study find that 38% of women felt more able to deal with life when they exercised regularly, but 92% of women surveyed cited mental health as a motivator to exercise, while 95% cited the self-care benefits.

Then there's the physical rewards. A 2024 study found that women actually benefit more from exercise than men, with 140 minutes of moderate exercise a week reducing women's risk of premature death from any cause by 18% compared with being inactive. By contrast, men needed 300 minutes of such exercise a week for a similar gain. Regular exercise also counteracts bone and muscle loss experienced by women as we age, improves sleep and helps maintain a healthy weight. 

The fact that the Ascis study found friends and like-minded women are women's biggest fitness motivators came as no surprise to us - our Juicy girl gang is the beating heart of our community, and the benefits of exercising as part of a group are endless. Not only does it keep you accountable, it boosts your motivation, improves your confidence, makes exercise fun and allows you to meet like-minded women.

As for overcoming the barriers to exercise, we like to think we're leading the charge. Dr Dlugonski said: "Our study showed that the gender exercise gap is a complex challenge. It will not be solved with one single solution, but when asked what could help, women noted that making movement more accessible, inclusive, and recognised in all forms, while challenging society's gendered expectations, would support them in moving more. This includes making exercise centred around women and their needs. From providing childcare and catering for all activity levels, to fitting around work, being fun, affordable, safe, welcoming, and judgement-free."

This is the very essence of Juicy - a safe space free of judgment where children are welcome and you'll find a community of supportive and encouraging like-minded women to help you reach your goals. Designed around women and what we need from a gym environment, we're constantly striving to break down barriers and make exercise inclusive, enjoyable and accessible.