The Women's Sports and Fitness Foundation have urged schools to introduce more female-friendly fitness activities such as Zumba to reduce the growing number of girls opting out of exercise.

Research from Loughborough University found that the differences in boys and girls attitude to sport greatly widens during their school years.

While eight-year-olds do similar levels of activity of least an hour a day, five days a week by the time girls reach 14 only 31% said they exercised regularly, compared with 50% of 14-year-old boys.

Commenting on the report, WSFF Sue Tibbals said: "It's simply unacceptable that the overwhelming majority of our young women are leaving school with dangerously low levels of physical activity.

"We can't afford to keep ignoring the evidence that school sport plays a key role in shaping attitudes to sports and fitness."

The majority of the girls questionned suggested they "would like to" do more physical activity but were put off by a number of factors including exercising in front of boys, lack of confidence in their sporting skills and concerns about what their friends thought about exercise.

Youth Sports Trust chairwoman Baroness Sue Campbell has backed the WSFF's advice saying that all schools need to "offer a wider variety of sports and physical activity that make girls feel included".

Posted 02/05/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com