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Girls Participating in Sports in Record Numbers
Date:4/14/2008

But exercise outside organized teams has drops as adolescence approaches, study finds

MONDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- A record number of American girls are participating in sports, but their physical activity levels outside of organized sports are decreasing, especially as they go from childhood to adolescence, a new study concludes.

The authors, from the University of Minnesota Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, reviewed the most recent research conducted on a number of aspects of girls and sport/physical activity including: physical, psychological, social and cultural benefits; barriers that prevent girls from reaching their full potential; and environments that help girls learn how to develop and do well both on and off the playing field.

"The research ... confirms that many good things are happening when it comes to girls and physical activity. Girls are participating in organized sports more than ever and at all levels -- from organized youth sports, to interscholastic sports and up through Olympic competition," report co-author Nicole LaVoi, associate director of the Tucker Center, said in a prepared statement.

The report, released Monday by the university, noted that girls derive a number of benefits of regular physical activity:

  • Improved health and lower risk of obesity and chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
  • Positive development, including social, psychological and motor skill benefits.
  • Athletic girls do better academically and have lower dropout rates than non-athletic girls.

However, the report found that girls face many barriers, stereotypes and gender inequities when it comes to sports and physical activity.

"Poverty substantially limits many girls' access to, and participation in, physical activity and sport, especially for girls of color who are overrepresented i
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