Women stressed out and unfit: study

Australia’s women feel stressed out and unfit, and when it comes to leisure time they report just 30 minutes a day.

A poll dubbed “Australia’s Biggest Health Check”, which gathered data from about 26,000 respondents, also reveals a significant mismatch between how much sex women want versus what they get.

Dr Aaron Coutts, senior lecturer in sport and exercise science at the University of Technology Sydney, said the research painted an overall positive picture while highlighting some areas where women want, and need, to make improvements.

“What it demonstrated was that women are very positive, women want to improve their health,” Dr Coutts told AAP on Tuesday.

“Clearly some of the measures in terms of stress and over weightness need to be improved but in terms of a comparative kind of study it is a positive finding.”

The survey was promoted via two magazines – Women’s Health and Prevention – and also had the backing of Priceline and the Seven Network’s Sunrise program.

About 24,500 women responded to its questionnaire, plus 1,500 men, and its key findings include:

– Women across all age groups aspire to lose weight (47 per cent), exercise more (47 per cent) and get more sleep (41 per cent).

– Respondents aged 25 to 39 rate anxiety and stress as their greatest medical concern, topping breast and skin cancer, while women aged over 40 say arthritis is their top concern.

– Stress levels were the highest among women aged 25 to 39, and particularly those living in NSW, with financial concerns and lack of sleep and time the major reasons.

– Almost half (46 per cent) of the women had a body mass index indicating they were overweight or obese, and this was more likely outside of city areas, while just over one in five (22 per cent) of the women rated themselves as “fit”.

– Seventeen per cent said they were “happy with their weight” while 36 per cent said it “often made them feel down”.

The research did show women were meeting the 150 minutes a week of exercise recommended for general health, though Dr Coutts said this would not be enough to achieve the health improvements sought by many women.

“Our concern is those who were overweight or obese, they were doing enough for general health but to reverse their obesity or over-weightness they probably need to do more,” he said.

“You have to do sometimes double that amount of exercise … it becomes harder and you need more motivation while reducing (food) energy intake.”

Women reported 3.74 hours of leisure time a week making it difficult to fit in more time for exercise that would improve health and reduce stress, Dr Coutts said.

They also said they had sex an average of 1.22 times a week, although they would like to increase this to 2.42.

“It’s an interesting finding, but I’m far from being an expert in that area,” Dr Coutts said.

“Women said they wanted to have more sex … and on satisfaction it was half and half.”

Just over half (54 per cent) said they were moderately or very satisfied with their current sex live, while 19 per cent were not very happy or not satisfied at all.

SYDNEY – 12/10/2010 01:04:31 PM [AAP]