Studies Show that Gym Classes May Make Women Hate Exercise

A new study in Britain confirms what some of us have always known: High school gym class can be such a traumatic experience for girls that they get turned off exercise for life, even though they know that it's crucial to their health.

Researchers at the Institute of Youth Sport at Loughborough University asked 1,500 students how they felt about fitness -- and the answers won't surprise anyone who has ever felt awkward in an ill-fitting Phys-Ed uniform.

Forty-eight percent of girls surveyed said that "getting sweaty is not feminine"-- and almost a third of boys surveyed agreed, according to a report in the Telegraph. Fifty-seven percent of girls agreed that girls tend to drop out of physical activity because their friends do, and 76 percent of girls agreed that they feel self-conscious about their bodies; about a quarter of them feel like gym class forces them to put their bodies on display.

Apparently, the insecurity and self-consciousness continues into adulthood. A different study, released last month by the British mental health charity Mind, found that 90 percent of women older than age 30 are crippled by low self-esteem and body-confidence issues when they try to exercise in public.

Some try to get fit by exercising in the dark or wearing baggy clothing, but most tend to avoid outdoor activities entirely, their report found. Instead, 71 percent of the 1,450 women surveyed said that they were more likely to eat comfort food, 66 percent said they'd rather sleep, and 71 percent would rather find a way to be alone instead of exercise.

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

Of those who do try to stay active, 60 percent said that they're nervous about "their wobbly bits, sweating, passing wind, or going red" and 66 percent worried that if they joined an exercise group, "other women would be unwelcoming and cliquey."

Did PE class put you off exercising?

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