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4 ways to help girls & women be physically active

Why getting active is key for women’s overall health & wellbeing

woman tieing her shoes

Whether it be 21-year-old tennis phenom Bianca Andreescu, or international soccer icon Christine Sinclair or up-and-coming WNBA superstar Kia Nurse, Canadian women are dominating the world stage of sports and athletics while inspiring a generation of young women to live an active lifestyle. With March 8 being International Women’s Day, we wanted to shine a light on these amazing Canadian female athletes.Sadly, despite the recent success of Canadian female athletes across a wide range of pro sports, amateur athletics and the Winter Games, not enough girls and young women are involved in sports and athletics due to unique barriers. This directly impacts their chances of embracing physical activity as adults.

Two girls doing yogaA recent study shows that 41%  of girls between the ages of three to 17 don’t participate in sport, indicating further that if girls do not engage in sport or physical activity by age 10, there is only a 10% chance they will be active as adults. Another report shows that 1 in 4 girls are not committed to returning to sport post-COVID. That’s far too many girls and women missing out on the life-changing physical and mental effects of living an active lifestyle. This becomes even more critical once females enter their 40s, 50s and 60s.

Just like men, women between the ages of 18 and 64 need 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity each week to maintain overall physical and mental health. According to the 2021 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Adults, only 46% of women achieve this, compared to 52% of men.

How can you help girls and women overcome barriers to physical activity?


1. Expose them to positive role models—Not surprisingly, there’s a higher chance of girls playing sports if the people in their lives such as their parents or guardians also do. These role models could even be athletes in the National Women’s Soccer League or your local basketball league, for example, or women who have achieved success in related fields like nutrition and fitness.

2.  Show your support for female athletes – Watch or attend women’s sporting events with the females in your life, whether it’s a professional or amateur game or tournament. This might even help inspire them to play sports or become more physically active themselves.

3. Become informed – Make yourself aware of the many barriers that girls and women face, as well as their experiences as both participants and leaders. One way you can do this is by attending a workshop run by Canadian Women & Sport or downloading one of their resources.

4. Be a vocal ally – Advocate for equitable access for every woman and girl to programs, effective coaching, leadership opportunities and facilities. Put into question practices and policies that put limits on the participation and leadership of women and girls. Anybody can be an ally for those who must overcome more barriers to playing sport and being physically active.

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