More active girls have better wellbeing, new data finds

New YST Girls Active report is one of the biggest ever surveys looking specifically at girls' activity

A new report has found that physically active girls are happier and more resilient than those who are not physically active.

The findings which include responses from more than 25,700 primary and secondary aged children across a two-year period have been revealed by national children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust, which is counting down to YST National School Sport Week with a focus on celebrating Five Ways to Wellbeing between 24 and 28 June.

More active girls showed higher levels of the qualities associated with wellbeing which are self-belief, confidence, resilience, happiness and empathy. The largest difference was seen in girls’ resilience. Over three quarters (77%) of more active girls said they were resilient compared to under half (46%) of less active girls.

The research is taken from the Youth Sport Trust’s Girls Active programme run in partnership with Women in Sport, This Girl Can, with funding from Sport England National Lottery. It also found that more active girls were happier with 75% stating so compared to 55% of less active girls.

Ali Oliver, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said:

“This data has provided us with some key insight into the barriers preventing girls from getting active but importantly, it shows us the transformative benefits of PE, sport and physically activity for young people.

“The barriers for girls during their time at primary school are different to those that they experience when moving to secondary school, but a common thread that runs across age groups is a lack of confidence. As such, this re-confirms the importance of a tailored approach to PE in our schools with girls at the heart of design and delivery. This is something we are committed to driving through our Girls Active programme.

As we countdown to YST National School Sport Week, I am excited by the increasing momentum of the Telegraph’s Girls, Inspired campaign and our own efforts to stop cuts to PE time.

The opportunities now being created are essential in growing awareness of the crucial role sport, PE and physical activity can play in developing a healthier and happier generation. We owe every girl the opportunity to become a confident mover, find a sport or activity that she enjoys, and through that experience improved physical health and emotional wellbeing - this is why we pledge to continue campaigning for and delivering outcomes through PE and sport in our schools which are recognised, understood and valued.

The YST’s Girls Active data revealed that for primary aged girls the biggest barriers were a dislike of getting hot and sweaty, not feeling confident, and being ‘no good at it’. For secondary aged girls the biggest barriers are a lack of confidence, disliking other people watching them and when they had their period.

In comparison boys at secondary school were twice more likely to say they have no barriers to physical activity than girls.

Kimberly Wyatt, Health & Wellbeing Ambassador for the Youth Sport Trust and Grammy nominated artist, said:

The statistics from the Youth Sport Trust show that girls need our help in getting active. Kids decide how they feel about their bodies between the ages of 6-8 and this choice lasts the rest of their lives. I passionately believe in the power of dance and physical activity to give every girl the best chance possible at a happy and fulfilled life and our duty is to do what we can.

For more information visit and to sign up to YST’s National School Sport Week visit

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