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Active Girls

Active Girls 

National data shows that physical activity levels start to decrease in children as young as 7 years of age. This also marks the ‘tipping point’ for confidence and attitudes in girls. Typically, boys report higher levels of physical activity than girls, and there is a trend for a steeper average decline in physical activity for girls compared to boys. Given the impact that habits established during childhood have further throughout life, increasing children’s physical activity levels, especially amongst the least active, has the potential to reap both immediate and longer-lasting benefits. 

Our efforts to engage more girls in sport and physical activity have found that changes to a whole-school's physical activity policy has a greater impact on encouraging girls to be more physically active and less sedentary, especially if supporting changes to the structure, content or environment of delivery of physical activity for less-active girls. We have found that teacher professional learning to improve lesson preparation and management has potential long-term benefits for teachers and students when engaging less-active girls. Schools should consider educating less-active girls as to the benefits of physical activity to promote behaviour change. Positive attitudes towards physical activity and intentions to participate is a step change towards actual participation 

Our Recommended approaches include. 

  1. CONSULT WITH LESS-ACTIVE GIRLS As a starting point and ongoing two-way process, this is essential to understanding girls’ needs, giving them ownership of physical activities, and helping to build trust. Make it about the girls! 

  1. ENGAGE PARENTS Involving parents/carers is a key ingredient for successful implementation. Lack of parental support can impede girls from being more physically active.  

  1. TRAIN SCHOOL STAFF Time out for staff to reflect, formulate ideas and plan the intervention is vital.  

  1. MAKE IT RELEVANT Understand and explore the factors that prevent less-active girls from being active.  

  1. INCREASE OPPORTUNITIES IN THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT Provide opportunities throughout the school day, in PE lessons and at break times for less active girls to be physically active.  

  1. IDENTIFY AND PROMOTE POSITIVE ROLE MODELS A variety of positive sporting role models can have a powerful effect on children’s attitudes to physical activity.  

  1. PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR GIRLS TO BE LEADERS Provide less-active girls with opportunities to demonstrate leadership and make decisions to increase their effort during PE lessons and physical activity sessions.  

  1. FOCUS ON FRIENDSHIP AND FUN Informal, girls-only physical activity sessions, which focus on fun and enjoyment with friends, are very successful.  

  1. PROVIDE REWARDS AND RECOGNITION To influence girls’ attitudes, recognise and reward effort as well as achievement. 

  1. USE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY TO ATTAIN PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT GOALS Interventions with both physical and cognitive components, such as goal setting, tend to influence children’s levels of physical activity more strongly than those using only one component.