Skip to main contentSkip to footer

Two thirds of girls stop exercising by the age of nine

children running
Share this:

Shocking new statistics reveal that two in three girls are ditching exercise at just nine years old. We all know the struggle is real when it comes to fitting exercise into our daily routine, with many of us juggling work, motherhood, social commitments and just wanting to sit down with a cup of tea. But knowing that exercising is beneficial to both health and mental wellbeing, we tie up our running shoes, grab our gym bag, and put in the effort. Sadly the same can't be said about young girls, who are shunning exercise at alarming rates.

MORE: See the latest fitness news and inspiration here

Researchers from the University of Bristol looked at the gap between genders when it comes to fitness, and found that it started a lot earlier than previously thought. Tracking 1,300 children, the team first analysed the group at ages five and six, during their first year of primary school, over the course of a week. The same children were looked at again three years later. This time researchers used an accelerometer, a device that detects movement, to compare how sedentary they had become. It was found that 65 per cent of girls were not getting an hour of physical activity a day, so were failing to meet the recommendation set out by the Chief Medical Officer.

children running

Many young girls have stopped exercising by the time they turn nine

Boys fared better, but 37.7 per cent still weren't reaching the required amount of daily activity. "Girls become less confident in primary school as they get older," lead author Russ Jago said. "They see the boys becoming very active, and tending to be very good at football and rugby, and often the girls slightly pull back and feel less able to be as active. We really need to find ways to boost girls' confidence in physical activity and build up their skill levels. If they can't catch a ball, for example, they are more likely to withdraw from physical activity. We also need to make it more about enjoyment with their friends than about competition."

STORY: The fitness routines loved by Victoria Beckham, Selena Gomez and more

The team has suggested schools should look at Zumba classes and playground tag during the day to get girls moving more, and add that during the evening and weekend parent's need to take responsibility.

More Health & Fitness

See more