Adolescent Girls and Opportunities for Physical Activity

Getting more girls into sports activities may take some work.\

Girls were found to have fewer opportunities for physical activity compared to boys, a Deakin University study found.

girls outside on street jumping rope getting physical activityThat’s the finding of a researcher from Deakin University in Melbourne Australia. Helen Brown, PhD, from the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) at Deakin University, reported adolescent girls have fewer opportunities to participate in sports.

Dr. Brown is a lecturer on the faculty of health at the School of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Deakin University.

“We know from our research at IPAN that 10-12 year old girls are participating in sport as much as boys, however by the time they reach 13-14 years of age, there is a massive decline in their participation levels and by 15-16 years old, many have completely lost interest,” Dr. Brown said in a press release.

Dr. Brown noted that the barriers she found in her work included a lack of availability of sporting clubs and the cost to join. In addition, sporting clubs are often booked full for boys’ activities, leaving little room for girls sports, according to Dr. Brown.

Another issue for girls is self-confidence to participate in athletic activities.

“We also know that teenage girls in particular are worried about looking foolish, so it is even more important to have places that they can go to try out new sports and just have some fun,” Dr. Brown said.

In her research, Dr. Brown noted she found that girls tend to prefer certain sports, like volleyball and soccer.

“However, they faced several barriers such as negative experiences at school, cultural perception of female participation in sport, lack of transport to venues and competing home obligations,” Dr. Brown said.

Parental support and encouragement are just some of the suggestions to help increase participation. Parents could join the girls in an activity like tennis, swimming or a brisk walk and provide opportunities for girls to get involved in athletics.

Schools could increase access–especially with sports activities immediately after school–offer more flexibility in sports and promote sports that are more available or acceptable to girls.

“We need to encourage more girls to try out a range of sports and see what they enjoy as this could be the first step in them finding something that they love and will pursue throughout their teenage years and beyond,” Dr Brown said.

Deakin University, “Time to remove barriers that stop girls being more active”