Research has revealed a huge difference in the number of men and women in sport. There are numerous factors said to have a part to play in moulding this difference, but fear of judgement is said to be one of the main deciding factors.
According to Women in Sport, 20% of girls aged between 5 and 15 meet the guidelines for physical activity (excluding school-based activities) of at least one hour of exercise a day.
It is apparent that getting girls moving is a challenge. The importance of getting girls into sport is prevalent and the physical benefits of involvement in sport is well documented: exercise promotes a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, some cancers, obesity, hypertension and diabetes. For girls, transitioning into their teenage years, sport can have emotional benefits such a s overcoming low self-esteem and reducing levels of anxiety.
Campaigns such as This Girl Can, have highlighted the opportunities sport can offer women, targeting the primary barrier said to be holding back girls from sport – fear of judgement.
Fear covers concerns over their appearance and ability and Sport England research has revealed that appearance is a concern for women when it comes to exercise: one woman in every four says they ‘hate the way I look when I exercise or play sport’.
How Can Parents Get Girls Moving?
- Encouragement – explain to your child that sport doesn’t make you ‘unfeminine’ and you don’t have to be a hard-core athlete to exercise. It’s okay to work up a sweat and challenge your body!
- Talk to them about girls’ and women’s sporting events and introduce them to female athletes.
- Reiterate the health benefits of regular exercise and getting involved in sport.
- Research girls- only sports teams in your area – girls are very susceptible to peer-group influence and the opinions of others matter. Sport is about belonging, so involvement with other like-minded girls will encourage participation.
- Ask her what sport they are interested in and try to keep it fun. Sport does not have to be competitive – getting involved is what matters.