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Her Life Depends On It: Sport, Physical Activity and the Health and Well-Being of American Girls

Report that summarises a vast quantity of research that suggests that engagement in physical activity may help to address numerous health issues that adolescent girls may encounter.

Sabo, D., Miller, K. E., Melnick, M. J. & Heywood, L. for the Woman’s Sport Foundation.  Center for Research on Physical Activity, Sport and Health, D'Youville College; Research Institute on Addictions, University at Buffalo; College at Brockport, Department of Physical Education and Sport and S.U.N.Y.-Binghamton.   (2004).

Report reviews studies that investigate the positive benefit of sport on girls’ health in America.  This link provides an Executive Summary, from which the full report can also be downloaded. 

The report begins with summarising the numerous health related issues that American females may be at risk of encountering, e.g. Obesity and Osteoporosis.  The report then summarises research that provides information on the positive impact of physical activity on health outcomes, such as reduction in breast cancer rates, reducing illicit drug use and decreasing depression. 

Lack of encouragement directed towards females in relation to physical activity is recognised as a cause of low levels of female participation in exercise.  A number of other barriers are identified, e.g. safety worries and persistent gender inequalities in provision.  This poor provision for girls should be regarded as endangering public health.  The report also recognises some health related problems associated with physical activity and exercise, such as the potential to develop eating disorders and binge drinking.  Athletic experiences of girls of different ethnic groups or who are from less affluent families are mediated by poverty and racial discrimination. 

This report calls on policies and practices to be changed in order for participation rates for females to be increased.  

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Woman's Sport Foundation

Further Contact Details

Don Sabo, D'Youville College. E-mail:donsabo@sporthealthresearch.org

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