Women are not doing enough exercise to benefit their health despite feeling under pressure to be thin, research reveals.
The Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF) have found that government targets of 2 million people active by 2012 are in jeopardy as women today are half as active as men.
Although 90% of women feel under pressure to be thin, 25% avoid exercising because they "hate the way they look" when they work out.
WSFF Chief Executive Sue Tibballs said: "There has been almost no change in the level of women's physical activity in the UK for the past 20 years and the forecasts show that the situation is getting worse. We are facing a real crisis in women's sport and fitness which will result in increasing obesity levels, physical and mental health issues and crime and social problems."
She adds that the media put women under pressure to be "thin rather than fit", adding, "girls are growing up believing it is more important to be attractive than active with many women inhibited from exercising because of low body confidence.
"Sport is still seen by some women as unfeminine, and girls' earliest experiences of sport are often off-putting."
Nearly a quarter of women said that physical education at school put them off sport in later life.
Addressing the WSFF conference, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that he and his government were committed to "achieving a step change in how women and girls experience and participate in sport and exercise."
Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply) "I think physical education needs to start at an early stage and this should be compulsory for all children when they get to school, half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the afternoon. Children in the developing world follow this regime, so as they grow older they are already accustomed. Here I think incentives for doing a half hour lunch time walk would increase the likely of men/women to take up such initiatves" - Name and address supplied
"VAT should not be charged at gyms. Employees of all councils should be given free or reduced passes to council leisure centres. Opening times are very teenage girl unfriendly. Swimming is a great exercise but there's nobody helping girls to do it, rather the opposite" - Name and address supplied