‘After five years you get bored with badminton’: Young womens’ conversations about Physical Fitness Activity

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This article draws on contemporary literature and the findings of a small empirical study that explored young womens’ perspectives on their participation in physical fitness activity. The study was undertaken in the context of an agenda for improved health and wellbeing in Scotland that reflected similar agendas throughout the UK. Against a backdrop that suggested young womens’ participation declines significantly in the early teens, this article identifies what influenced the young people in this study to participate in fitness activity in order to illustrate why these trends persist and how participation might be increased.

The study was undertaken at a time when youth work practices in work with girls and young women had all but disappeared from the policy map and there was a lack of targeted single gender youth work interventions. As we celebrate 100 years of the womens’ movement, this article offers insights into young womens’ participation in fitness activity and how, in light of the downward trend for this age group, their levels of participation might be increased. The study highlighted contributory factors that went beyond superficial lack of interest or the availability of a particular activity. The findings developed conclusions that participation might be increased by addressing issues of gender stereotyping, by responding to suggested new patterns of young womens’ leisure time activity and by using PFA as a catalyst for social change. The findings provided insights into how this might be achieved. These insights might be useful to anyone involved in working with young women in either single gender or mixed gender groups who are also interested in young people’s health and fitness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-28
JournalA Journal of Youth Work
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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