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Utah News

New Research Snapshot Shows Only 14% Of Utah Girls Are Meeting Physical Activity Recommendations

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 A new research snapshot released by the Utah Women and Leadership Project found Utah girls fall behind their male peers when it comes to levels of physical activity.

In the state of Utah, 28% of boys meet basic physical activity recommendations, while only 14% of girls meet those recommendations according to a new research snapshot by the Utah Women and Leadership Project.

Dr. Susan Madsen, director of the UWLP, said the research especially focused on gender and social barriers young women face in the realm of physical activity. 

“Girls and women often grow up thinking, ‘my body is to look at, I need to have it pretty so that people can look and admire’," she said. "Instead of, ‘I have this great body. I can run, I can walk, I can be active’.”

Madsen said one of the main barriers highlighted in the research is that many physical education classes are focused on competitive sports, which was found to be generally less appealing for girls. 

She said it is important for children to find physical activities they enjoy at a young age so they can appreciate movement throughout their lives. For boys and girls alike, she said the parents’ examples can shape young people’s habits with exercise and movement.

“If you grow up loving movement, that goes into a lifetime of better health," she said. "And we’re not talking just physical health, we’re talking mental health as well.”

Madsen said when raising girls and young women it is important to emphasize how movement affects overall health, not just looks.

She also said giving options to kids both in P.E. classes and at home is a great way to help them find enjoyment in physical activity.