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Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation: Changing the Game, for Girls

May 2, 2012

Over half of secondary girls say that "girls are put off sport and physical activity because of their experiences of school sport and PE."
The Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF) say schools hold the key to closing gender gap in physical exercise.

A new report by the 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 half of all girls (51%) 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.

The WSFF make a series of recommendations on how to help girls enjoy and sustain an active lifestyle and give a clear overview of the research.

As part of the research, a survey asked 1,500 school children about their attitudes to fitness and sport. It found that:

Half of all girls (51%) are put off physical activity by their experiences of school sport and PE.
45% of girls say "sport is too competitive" and more than half think boys enjoy competitive sport more than girls.
Over half of all boys and girls agree that "there are more opportunities for boys to succeed in sport than girls."
Half of the girls surveyed (48%) say that getting sweaty is "not feminine."
Nearly a third of boys think that girls who are sporty are not very feminine.
Of the least active girls, 46% say that they don't like the activities they get to do in PE compared to 26% of the most active.
43% of girls agree that "there aren't many sporting role models for girls."