In this article, we explore how a capabilities perspective can advance practice theoretic conceptualisations of persistent health inequalities. Specifically, we seek to understand the capabilities necessary for recruitment to leisure time physical activity (LTPA) practices by low SES mothers, a group traditionally excluded from LTPA. Our study illuminates that mothers living a life of social disadvantage face difficulties in becoming recruited to LTPA practices despite, in many cases, the availability of elements required for performance. We identify that temporal, support and energy capabilities are necessary for low SES mothers to become recruitable to LTPA. The dispossession of these capabilities signals inequalities in the constellation of practices that configure this group’s lived experiences, in turn giving rise to practice absence and further consolidating patterns of inequality. We offer a framework of practice capabilities and health inequalities to guide future practice-oriented scholarship in the sociology of illness and health, which signals how capabilities may enable or constrain recruitment to health-promoting practices, give rise to inequalities and condition the possibility of practice absence.