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Getting girls active: Reducing gender inequality in physical activity

Girls are less active than boys at all ages. English girls are among some of the least active in the world, with only 16% of girls meeting UK physical activity guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity each day. This means that most girls miss out on the important social and health benefits of regular physical activity.
Research suggests that the changes girls experience during the transition from primary to secondary school (in perceived competence, friendship groups and peer support) may contribute to this decline.

A recent review suggests that previous attempts to help girls to be more active have had little effect and more novel approaches are needed. This evidence, alongside the Government’s recent Childhood Obesity Strategy, means that it is crucial that physical activity (in particular girls’ activity) is pushed up the policy agenda.

This report presents new research evidence from the University of Bristol’s Centre for Exercise, Nutrition & Health Sciences that can be used to support work on a local and national level to ensure that girls can be and stay active throughout childhood and adolescence. The evidence supporting this policy briefing draws on projects that used quantitative cohort and intervention studies as well as qualitative interviews and focus groups.