Washington, Apr 14 : A report released by the University of Minnesota has revealed that though the number of girls participating in sports have hit a record high, still there are certain barriers that prevent them from taking part in activities outside the organised sports, as they move from childhood into adolescence.
The researchers reviewed the most recent research related to physical, psychological, social and cultural benefits that girls derive from participation in sport and physical activity and the barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential.
"The research within the report confirms that many good things are happening when it comes to girls and physical activity," said Nicole LaVoi, researcher and associate director of the Tucker Center and a report author.
"Girls are participating in organized sports more than ever and at all levels -- from organized youth sports, to interscholastic sports and up through Olympic competition," she added.
While highlighting the benefits of physical activity, the report said regular physical activity improved health and reduced their risk of obesity and chronic diseases such as Type II diabetes, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
It also helped in positive youth development, including social, psychological and motor skill benefits. Moreover, athletic girls performed better academically and have lower dropout rates.
However, there were many barriers, stereotypes and gender inequities that firmly limit girls from exploring their potential.
"Poverty substantially limits many girls' access to, and participation in, physical activity and sport, especially for girls of colour who are over-represented in lower socio-economic groups," said LaVoi.
"So while some girls are physically active, many girls fail to meet minimal standards of physical activity needed to accrue developmental and health benefits, or worse, they are completely sedentary. There remains a great deal of work left to be done," she added.
The report revealed that girls' participation rates in all types of physical activities consistently lag behind those of boys and girls' dropout rates are higher.
In addition, outdated, stereotypical standards of femininity and masculinity continue to influence the extent to which girls participate in or shun physical activity.
And female athletes continue to be trivialized through the popular media's widespread sexualization of women.
Mary Jo Kane, director of the Tucker Centre suggested that to ensure all girls to have opportunities to increase physical activity parents, coaches to school administrators and community leaders to policy makers have to make a commitment for eliminating these barriers.
The report titled 'Developing Physically Active Girls: An Evidence-based Multidisciplinary Approach' was released on April 14.