Fast and Female is a website that motivates girls to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. Research indicates that in young girls, a lack of physical activity is directly related to rebellious behavior (like abusing drugs and alcohol, or teen pregnancy), poor self-worth, and poor health.
If girls stay active, they are more likely to develop positive coping skills, increased self-worth, and increased confidence. But many girls who were involved in physical activities and sports when they were younger drop out as they approach puberty. Fast and Female has suggestions on how to guide girls to a healthy, active lifestyle they’ll stick with for life.
1. Define “physical activity” clearly
Make sure girls know that “physical activity” requires movement of your body that increases your heart rate. Whether you are participating in a light activity like walking your dog, or a vigorous activity like running in a soccer match, you are engaging in essential physical activity. Make sure girls know that working out regularly will make them strong, increase their energy, and help them develop into a physically active female.
2. Changing attitudes about physical activity
If a girl says, “I’m not an athlete”: Explain to her that physical activity is not black and white. Remind girls that no one is ever born a natural athlete, even Olympic champions started at the beginning, and worked hard to succeed in their sport.
If a girl says, “I’m afraid of getting teased”: Demonstrate that you empathize with her by telling her that everyone wants to be accepted by their peers. Explain to her that being part of a sports team is all about belonging, acceptance of teammates with uniforms, team spirit, and cheers.
If a girl says “I don’t know anything about sports”: Help her learn. Start playing and watching different types of sports together so that she learns and becomes familiar with the rules of a range of games at her own pace.
3. Keep it fun
If a girl enjoys her time playing sports, she will be more likely to play in the future. Here’s how you can make being active fun for your daughter:
- Go to female sports events
- Each season try a weather-appropriate sport. Like snowshoeing in the winter, beach volleyball in the summer, softball in the spring, and cross-country in the fall.
- Vary the environment. Try taking a different route in your neighborhood each time you walk, instead of running around a track, run along the beach or around a park.
- Learn about female athletes. Read, or watch biographies on inspirational female heroes like Billie Jean King, Mia Hamm and the Williams sisters.
- Make a sports scrapbook. Collect pictures of female athletes, and also of you and your daughter doing physical activities.
- Give gifts of sports equipment and apparel.
4. Emphasize the importance of teamwork
Make getting physically active a team effort. Girls are more likely to enjoy and maintain physical activity if their guardian or parent is active as well. Keep activity logs of sports you’ve played together, teach her your favorite sports you played at her age, or try to craft matching activity charm bracelets and add a new sports equipment charm to represent every new activity you try together.
5. Stick with it
Most importantly, once a girl is involved with physical activity it’s crucial she maintain it. Encourage her to track her progress by keeping an activity journal or fitness calendar so she can visually see her development.
And always remind girls that being active will help them be more confident, do better in school, and be more secure socially.