Busy modern lifestyles are limiting opportunities for women to stay active and fit, a new report reveals.

Researchers from Griffith University’s Social Marketing @ Griffith team have linked up with Vic Health to survey exercise habits and intentions of more than 1400 adults in Melbourne.

The findings show women are more inclined to want to exercise than men, but miss out on opportunities to do because of work or family commitment. Women’s participation is consistently lower in all age groups after the age of 29.

“The early findings of this research project are immensely useful,” Dr Krzysztof Kubacki from Social Marketing @ Griffith said.

“With an understanding of what people are currently doing and not doing in terms of keeping active, we can focus on what is required to lead to a change in behavior.”

“From a social marketing point of view, we can see many ways to go.”

Dr Kubacki started a five-year Social Marketing Research Practice fellowship with VicHealth earlier this year, examining evidence of the effectiveness of social marketing in the long term.

Social marketing involves the use of commercial marketing techniques to influence and facilitate behaviors that benefit individuals and communities.

“By presenting physical activity as something fun and appealing, social marketing can encourage people to be more active and, therefore, healthy,” he said.

The results of the survey, released by VicHealth this week, show women were more likely than men to take part in yoga (7% vs. 3%) and slightly more likely to go swimming (16% vs. 14%). And men were significantly more likely than women to take part in cycling (19% vs. 11%) and golf (12% vs. 2%).

Overall, men were more likely to say they had been physically active in the previous week at 94 per cent, compared to 92 per cent of women overall.

However, the survey shows 34 per cent of women intend to start a new physical activity compared to only 18 per cent of men.

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said women often face more barriers to physical activity, particularly older women, mothers and those from non-English speaking backgrounds. Common reasons include difficulty finding the time, a lack of appropriate facilities for women and caring for children.

“Women are finding it increasingly difficult to get involved in exercise at set times of the day or week,” Ms Rechter said.

“There is little doubt that our increasingly busy and cluttered lifestyles are a factor, which is why we need to rethink how we get our 30-minutes of exercise into our days.”

The survey was conducted as part of VicHealth’s free TeamUp phone app. The app acts as a free community noticeboard where people can list or browse hundreds of activities, from yoga to soccer to roller derby, in their local area, and join in with no commitment.