A study of secondary school female practitioners’ perceptions of the barriers affecting adolescent female participation and interest in Physical Activity in England, and how effective current initiatives are in increasing female participation in physical activity
Curson, Ellen Rose
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The importance of promoting physical activity throughout childhood and adolescence has dramatically increased in recent years, as a result of research suggesting that incorporating a healthy lifestyle from a young age can significantly reduce health risks occurring in adult life (Hills et al, 2015; Pronk & Remington, 2015). Recent research has identified a decline in physical activity among females throughout adolescence (Pearson et al, 2015; Arigo et al, 2015). The most recent statistical evidence concerning participation rates in sport states that 40.9% of males perform the recommended amount of physical activity per week, in comparison to only 30.3% of women, nearly two million more males than females (Sport England 2014-2015). The purpose of this study is to examine the existing barriers that are present to adolescent females in PE and PA, and how effective current initiatives are at boosting female participation and interest. The sample consists of six female PE practitioners all based in the South-West of England. Participants were chosen based on their experience of working within a PE environment where their knowledge and personal opinions could be used in order to evaluate present barriers and initiatives affecting female participation in sport. Recorded interviews were used for data collection in order to gain an understanding into the school policies, significant barriers and effectiveness of current initiatives. It can be argued through the data analysis and review of the literature that a number of issues affect adolescent female participation and engagement in PE and PA. The main barriers identified throughout the study included social pressures, gender stereotyping, PE kit, lack of female sporting role models, gender and opportunities and cultural and religious factors. The study also highlighted the promotion of current initiatives needing attention. It was also evident that PE departments, alongside school policies, need to reinforce the promotion of a healthy lifestyle within lessons to ensure that students understand the importance of healthy lifelong habits.
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