Written by Scott E. Crouter, Ph.D.
Physical activity is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle; however, young females are at greater risk for not getting enough physical activity compared to young males. In general, young males are typically more active than young females, and for both genders, physical activity tends to decrease with age. Usually, the decrease in physical activity is much greater in females than males. In addition, overweight and obesity are at an all-time high, putting young adults at greater risk for other diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
An important source of physical activity, which is often overlooked in young females due to social and cultural stigmas, is sport participation. Sport participation is great for building confidence and self-esteem while decreasing levels of depression. In addition, sport participation provides a means to build important life skills, such as teamwork and goal-setting, while having fun and staying in shape. Research has shown that young female athletes generally have higher academic test scores and are more likely to graduate from college.
There are also important health benefits obtained from participating in sports and physical activity. Young female athletes are generally healthier and have a lower prevalence of overweight and obesity throughout life, reducing their risk for other diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. Sport participation is also an important component to building strong bones, which will decrease the risk of osteoporosis as they age.
Over the past decade, more and more opportunities for females to become involved in sports have arisen and female sport participation is higher than ever. Girls who begin sports younger in life are more likely to continue being active as they get older; therefore, young females should be encouraged to find activities and sports that interest them so they can learn how to be physically active early in life and carry those habits with them as they get older.
Additional information on young female sport participation:
Women’s Sports Foundation