A new study, Changing the Game, for Girls, commissioned by the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation (WSFF) identifies that girls in the UK are not getting enough exercise and that schools hold the key to encouraging girls to get active.
The report, based on research carried out by the Institute of Youth Sport at Loughborough University, shows that over half of all girls are put off physical activity by their experiences of school sport and PE.
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.
The report also highlights the gender gap that emerges between girls and boys as they grow up. In Year Four of primary school, girls and boys are doing similar levels of physical activity.
However, by Year Six, girls are doing considerably less exercise than boys, a gap that widens as girls reach Year Nine of secondary school.
As part of the research, a survey asked 1,500 school children about their attitudes to fitness and sport.
It found that over half of all girls are put off physical activity by their experiences of school sport and PE, with 45% saying “sport is too competitive”.
More than half think boys enjoy competitive sport more than girls and that “there are more opportunities for boys to succeed in sport than girls.”
Girls also expressed the view that getting sweaty is “not feminine” although only a third of boys felt that girls who are sporty are not very feminine.