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THIS week I read with concern that girls'.

Byline: Caroline INNES

THIS week I read with concern that girls' physical activity levels are much lower than boys.

Researchers in Liverpool found that the females are less physically active than their male counterparts, which could cause health implications on a number of levels.

Liverpool John Moores University researchers who studied activity levels in schoolchildren found girls take part in more than 6% less vigorous playtime activity than boys, choosing instead to spend more time in small groups engaging in verbal games, conversation and socialising.

Most boys, however, played in larger groups, which lend themselves more to physically active games, such as football and running games.

Researcher Dr Nicky Ridgers said: "It is a concern that girls' activity levels are lower than boys and, although it is just one piece in a complex picture, this could be contributing to girls being overweight and obese.

"Schools should be aware of the differences between the way girls and boys behave in the playground, and the fact that girls tend to favour small group activities.

"They could then consider the availability of equipment and provision of playtime activities that would encourage girls to take part in more vigorously active play."

This of course makes sense.

If girls don't want to play football or run around the playground, what can we offer them that will provide daily exercise which they want to do because they enjoy it?

My PE lessons were enough to turn you off any form of exercise for good - and to be honest almost did.

The memories of standing in blue gym knickers on a freezing cold wet all-weather pitch waiting for the humiliation of being picked last by "sporty" team captains for a hellish game of hockey still sends shivers down my spine.

But while I didn't want to run round the playground I did love dance classes, aerobics and netball. However there were no options to do either of these during play time despite boys being given footballs to kick around.

I became interested in fitness in spite of PE lessons and playtime at school, not because of them.

I fear that unless more is done to offer different ways to get active more children, particularly girls, will be turned off exercise for good.

THIS WEEK why not...


DO not resist weight training. No matter how reluctant you may be to start up a strength training programme, there is no denying the huge benefits reaped from this type of exercise.

Lifting weights helps to burn fat as muscle burns calories therefore increasing the metabolism.

Those who are dedicated to a strength training program may have less injuries than those who do not engage in strength training at all. These exercises strengthen muscles, making them less susceptible to injuries.

One of the most important strength training benefits for women, these exercises can increase bone density and lessen the chances of women developing osteoporosis at an older age. Strength training can restore lost bone density.
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 12, 2009
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