Get Girls Active, Part One: What Does It Mean to be Physically Active?

Much of our research indicates that lack of physical activity is directly related to increased pregnancy, delinquency, obesity, truancy and increased risk taking (use of drugs and alcohol) among school-aged girls. In correlation to the studies providing choices of leisure has promoted successful life skills such as utilizing positive coping skills, increased sense of self, reduction in risky behaviors and increased goal setting. Research suggests that physical activity is an effective tool for reducing the symptoms of stress and depression among girls. Bottom line: sports help girls in all aspects of their lives.

But what happens when a girl is resistant to getting active? Our new Get Girls Active blog series will provide you with crucial information and tips to get girls physically active and help guide them to a healthier, happier lifestyle.

I. What It Means to be Physically Active
Physical activity is anything that requires movement of your body and increases heart rate. Working out on a regular basis (at least three days a week) will make you strong, increase energy and flexibility and turn you into a physically active person. Whether you engage in light activity like throwing a Frisbee or more vigorous activity like running, you are still engaging your body in movement, and that's what matters.

Activity is composed of three levels:

• Light Activity. Strolling at a park (please see attached for listing of local parks and locations in your area). Playing catch, throwing a Frisbee, flying a kite, horseshoes, ping pong.

• Moderate Activity. Walking briskly, hiking, leisurely inline skating, bicycling on level terrain, trampoline jumping, weight-training with free weights, dancing, doubles tennis, shooting baskets, recreational swimming, canoeing, skateboarding, surfing, snorkeling, t-ball, horseback riding, volleyball and playground activities

• Vigorous Activity. Running, energetic aerobics or dancing, swimming continuous laps, bicycling uphill, climbing stairs, jump rope, jumping jacks, fast-paced inline skating, ice hockey, intensely training for competitive sports.

Beginners, regardless of age, should start easy and build to regular, moderate activity. Regular means just about every day. Moderate exercise is when you are active enough to increase your heart rate and breathing for an hour. You should be able to talk to someone, but you shouldn’t be able to sing. With more skills and training, regular moderate and vigorous activities should be part of your routine.

Our physical activity-based, award-winning GoGirlGo! curriculum uses the above guidelines to help sedentary girls get started on a path to a healthier, happier life. Learn more about GoGirlGo! here.

Next week, look for Part Two of the Get Girls Active Series: Changing Attitudes About Physical Fitness.

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The Women’s Sports Foundation is a non-profit that advances the lives of women through sports and physical activity.

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