Low self esteem and body confidence are fuelling love life and fitness fears

9 February 2018

  • Nearly half (45%) of working Brits admit that their fears have adversely affected their love lives, with nearly a third of them (32%) saying they’re troubled by fear of rejection1.  
  • A third (33%) say their fears are frustrating their sex lives, with a third of them (33%) fearful of being seen naked.
  • And nearly half (46%) of working Brits fear keeping fit with others because of low self-esteem, body image issues and embarrassment2.  
  • To help to remedy this, AXA PPP healthcare has launched a new campaign – Own Your Fears – to encourage people to harness their fears into a motivating force for a happier, healthier future.

New research by AXA PPP healthcare reveals that fears borne of low self-esteem and body confidence are causing love lives to suffer and stopping the UK’s working population from being more active. To help people harness their fears into a motivating force to live the life they want to lead, AXA PPP healthcare has launched a new campaign – Own Your Fears. Encouragingly, nearly three-quarters (73%) of the working people the healthcare company surveyed¹ believe it’s possible for fear to be used in a positive way.

Nearly half (45%) of the working Brits AXA PPP polled say their fears have adversely affected their love lives. Of these, nearly a third (32%) say they don’t approach people for fear of being rejected – men (52%) more so than women (48%). 15% say their fears stop them committing to relationships – men (57%) more so than women (43%). 1 in 6 (17%) say their fears have even led to their losing the love of their life. On the other hand, nearly a third (31%) admit their fears have led to their staying in an unhealthy or toxic relationship.

A third (33%) of working Brits say that their fears are affecting their sex lives too. Of these, a third (33%) are fearful of being seen naked – women (70%) more so than men (30%). Notably, 1 in 5 (20%) millennials aged 18-34 rank ‘being seen naked’ a top fear – more so than older age groups, indicating such reticence dwindles with age. Comparing ourselves with others is another source of bedroom fear – 19% of those whose sex lives are affected by fear compare themselves with their partner’s exes while 13% do it with celebrities. Over a third (36%) admit their fears leave them feeling too anxious and stressed for sex.

When it comes to working out with others, nearly half (46%) of working Brits say low self-esteem, body image issues and embarrassment leave them fearful to join in. And 1 in 10 (11%) say they’re afraid of being seen wearing gym gear.

“Our fears stem from feeling threatened and wanting to protect ourselves from that threat is normal. All of us have fears, whether it’s fear of failure, fear of being laughed at in ill-fitting sweaty gym clothes or fear of not achieving our aims or being the person we thought we’d be. But, if we can turn these negative thoughts that create our fears into motivation, they don’t have to hold us back. For example, fearing rejection and believing we’re not good enough can stop us from enjoying nurturing, loving relationships or from ending relationships that have turned sour. Similarly, avoiding committing to loving someone can mean that we miss out on the plusses of a mutually-rewarding, long term relationship.

“Finding time to be active around the working day and our commitments to family and friends can be challenging enough, without low self esteem and embarrassment about our looks or fitness adding another barrier. Instead, I’m urging people to harness these sometimes irrational fears and use them as a driving force to make positive choices for a happier, healthier life.” [Dr Mark Winwood, director of psychological services]

To find out how fears can hold us back and watch Dr Winwood’s video about ‘How to set your fear’ so you can turn it into a motivating tool, visit AXA PPP healthcare’s Own Your Fears website: www.axappphealthcare.co.uk/ownyourfears.


1Research of 2005 working people undertaken December 2017 by Vitreous World for AXA PPP healthcare

2Research of 1000 working people undertaken August 2017 by 3Gem for AXA PPP healthcare

Further information

Notes to editors


Ben Faulkner/John DuBois AXA PPP healthcare press office 01892 612822

About AXA PPP healthcare

AXA PPP healthcare – one of the largest and most experienced private medical insurance providers in the UK – has been helping people to access healthcare services since 1940. Today it forms the UK healthcare arm of AXA and provides cover for medical and dental care for individuals and employers, and employee wellbeing, counselling, occupational health and rehabilitation services through its specialist Health Services division.        AXA PPP healthcare has been named the Best Healthcare Provider for three years running in the Your Money Awards and, in June 2015, was awarded the prestigious accolade of European Large Contact Centre of the Year at the 2015 European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards, followed in September 2015 by the Best Customer Experience accolade in the Large Contact Centre category of the UK Customer Experience Awards 2015.

About AXA

The AXA Group is a worldwide leader in insurance and asset management, with 166,000 employees serving 107 million clients in 64 countries. In 2016, IFRS revenues amounted to Euro 100.2 billion and IFRS underlying earnings to Euro 5.7 billion. AXA had Euro 1,429 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2016. In 2016 Interbrand ranked AXA the 1st insurance brand worldwide for the 8th consecutive year.

In the UK AXA operates through a number of business units including: AXA Insurance, AXA PPP healthcare and AXA Ireland. AXA employs over 10,000 staff in the UK. The AXA ordinary share is listed on compartment A of Euronext Paris under the ticker symbol CS (ISN FR 0000120628 – Bloomberg: CS FP – Reuters: AXAF.PA). AXA’s American Depository Share is also quoted on the OTC QX platform under the ticker symbol AXAHY. 

The AXA Group is included in the main international SRI indexes, such as Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and FTSE4GOOD.

It is a founding member of the UN Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Principles for Sustainable Insurance and a signatory of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment.