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New WSF Report Reveals that Just 25% of Girls Across the Nation Regularly Engage in Sports & Physical Activity

New York, NY (May 12, 2015) – Only 25 percent of the nation’s girls are getting the appropriate levels of physical activity, placing them at a disadvantage when it comes to their physical health and personal achievement, according to a report released today by The Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF), the leading authority on the participation of women and girls in sports. The report, entitled Her Life Depends On It, is a comprehensive look at the links between participation in sport, physical activity and the health and well-being of American girls and women.

“The ability of girls and women to access sports is a fundamental right that has implications for an individual’s dignity, happiness, health, personal freedom, and success,” said Deborah Slaner Larkin, CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation. “This right should be accorded unequivocally and without reservation to every girl and woman. With only a quarter of the nation’s girls getting the appropriate levels of physical activity, more work needs to be done in ensuring that programs meet their needs.”

Her Life Depends On It III provides an in-depth look at critical topics and trends including:

  • Girls and Women Shortchanged: As a general trend, females across the board, regardless of age, race, or social class, are shortchanged in realizing the benefits of participation in physically challenging activities.
  • Girls and Women of Color: Females from lower economic backgrounds, females of color and females with disabilities suffer even greater negative health consequences as a result of less engagement in physical activity and less access to sport and physical fitness programs.
  • Vulnerability to Concussion: Female athletes report higher rates of concussions than male athletes in some sports, experience concussions differently than males, and tend to take longer to recover.
  • Breast Cancer Risk: Based on the findings from 23 studies examining the effect of moderate and vigorous physical activity during adolescence on cancer risk, those who had the highest physical activity during adolescence and young adulthood were 20% less likely to get breast cancer later in life (Lagerros, Hsieh, & Hsieh, 2004).
  • Suicide: Women with major depression who participated in some physical activity were less likely to experience excessive guilt and to make a suicide plan (McKercher et al., 2013).
  • Educational Gains: Current research shows that there is a positive connection between physical activity and academic achievement in girls and women (Veliz & Shakib, 2014).
  • Women in the Sport Workplace: Despite more female athletes than ever before participating in the sport system, obstacles persist for women who wish to be leaders and decision-makers in the sport industry. Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, women remain in the substantial minority in the sport workplace, with women comprising approximately 10% of all high school athletic directors, two in 10 head coaches at the college level, and less than 20% of college athletic directors.

“Although participation is low for all girls and women, our findings show that females from lower economic backgrounds, females of color and females with disabilities often face even greater obstacles to their participation in physical activity and sports, and suffer greater negative health consequences as a result,” says Marjorie A. Snyder, Ph.D., senior director of research for the Women’s Sports Foundation. “That’s why the Women’s Sports Foundation works so hard to ensure access to sports for women and girls from all walks of life.”

The Foundation’s report is co-authored by a team of experts and is compiled from more than 1,500 studies examining women’s athletics and health, including hundreds of new studies conducted since the last edition was released in 2009.

To learn more and download the full report please visit: Her Life Depends On It III

About The Women’s Sports Foundation
The Women’s Sports Foundation — the leading authority on the participation of women and girls in sports — is dedicated to creating leaders by ensuring girls access to sports. Founded by Billie Jean King in 1974, our work shapes public attitude about women’s sports and athletes, builds capacities for organizations that get girls active, ensures equal opportunities for girls and women, and supports physically and emotionally healthy lifestyles. The Women’s Sports Foundation has relationships with more than 1,000 of the world’s elite female athletes and is recognized globally for its leadership, vision, expertise and influence. For more information, visit www.WomensSportsFoundation.org.

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