Hats off to Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ campaign, which has inspired more than one million women to start exercising since it launched last year.
The campaign’s aim was to encourage women of all shapes and sizes to take part in regular exercise. And it appears it has done just that.
Statistics suggest a staggering 2.8 million women (aged 14-40) recognise the campaign as a key player in motivating them to do some, or more, activity.
Included in this figure are 1.6 million women who have taken up exercise as a result of the campaign.
The eye-opening figures come from social research company TNS BRMB and are based on a representative sample of 1,000 women who were asked about the physical activity they did, as well as their attitudes to exercise and awareness of the campaign over the past 12 months.
The figures collected from this research were then scaled up based on the UK population.
For those who need a refresh, the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign tells the story of women who exercise and play sport by using images that contradict the “idealised and stylised images of women” that we often see.
“Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox” and “I kick balls, deal with it” are among the hard-hitting lines used in the campaign in a bid to change attitudes and boost women’s confidence.
Jennie Price, Sport England’s chief executive, said that she was “very encouraged” by the new figures, which suggest that the campaign has achieved its main aim.
“They show ‘This Girl Can’ is not just being talked about, but is also changing behaviour.”
After the statistics were released, Price wrote a blog post on the Telegraph about Sport England’s learnings over the past year.
“While the fear of judgement when exercising tends not to leave women completely – they manage it by building confidence and resilience, and by actively avoiding environments that make them feel uncomfortable,” she said.
Price explained that what’s particularly great about the campaign is that it’s helping women during the earliest stages of thinking about physical activity, “including those who’ve written off exercise as not being for them”.
“Some women who hated sport since school began to think that maybe they could go swimming, join a Zumba class, or go for a bike ride. That’s a huge step if you’ve not even contemplated physical activity for years,” she said.
But despite the good news, Price said the job is “far from done”.
“With a gender gap of 1.73 million fewer women playing sport compared to men, we need to keep getting the message out there that women come in all shapes and sizes and levels of ability, and they should all feel able to exercise and play sport,” she said.
Sports Minister, Tracey Crouch, said: “Initiatives such as ‘This Girl Can’ are helping to change behaviour and encourage more women and girls to participate in sport.
“These figures paint a promising picture but we need to build upon this foundation. That’s why the Government launched a new strategy for sport last month to get more people active and secure a sporting future for us all.”
The findings come one month after Sport England’s ‘Active People Survey’ found that 148,700 more women were active for at least 30 minutes once a week, every week in the 12 months leading up to September 2015. This was in comparison to the 12 months leading up to March 2015.
Over the past year, ‘This Girl Can’ films have been viewed 37 million times on their YouTube and Facebook channels alone, there have been 660,000 tweets using #ThisGirlCan and is has gained popularity in more than 110 countries.