Over half of secondary girls say that “girls are put off sport and physical activity because of their experiences of school sport and PE. These are the findings of a study for the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation (WSFF). As a result, the WSFF is writing to schools offering advice on how they can make school sports more attractive to girls.
This research, conducted by the Institute of Youth Sport at Loughborough University, found big differences in the attitudes of girls and boys towards doing sport. This research suggests that the gap between the amount of exercise girls and boys do widens during their time at school. Official figures show that just 12% of 14 year old girls are reaching the recommended levels of physical activity – half the number of boys at the same age. This is despite three quarters (74%) of girls saying they would like to be more active.
Half of all girls (51%) have been put off physical activity by their experiences of school sport and PE. This is because they do not like exercising in front of boys, and are not confident about their sporting skills. Girls are also concerned about what their friends think about exercise – 48% think that ’getting sweaty’ is not feminine. Many of those questioned said they did not think there were enough female sporting role models.
The differences are wider among older schoolchildren. Eight-year-olds do similar levels of activity - about 60% of both girls and boys said they did regular exercise (defined as at least an hour, five days a week). That figure had halved among 14-year-old girls. Only 31% said they exercised regularly, compared with 50% of 14-year-old boys.
School sport plays such an influential role in shaping attitudes towards sport and fitness in adult life. In addition to its physical benefits, sport also helps children to learn effective healthy coping strategies for dealing with stress. And no physical activity more than yoga. Did you read our blog post last month about the benefits of teen yoga? Last month we also explained why yoga is so good for Tweens in this blog post.
So well done to the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation for initiating this research and using this as an opportunity to encourage schools to introduce more female-friendly sports and fitness activities into their curriculum!