This report indicates that girls understand the importance of physical activity and want to increase their activity levels, but they may be low in confidence, and worry about their fitness and being able to get back into a routine again, as well as being concerned about participating in large groups.

Women in Sport’s work included ethnographic research with online interviews and tasks which followed a diverse group of 18 girls (aged 13-16) [12 less active, 6 active], from across England and in the low-mid socioeconomic group, for two months, followed by a representative survey of 1518 girls (aged 12-18). 

They consider the affect of the pandemic on girls values:

  1. Support Network – A sense of place in the world
  2. Socially Connected - Validation
  3. Independence and New Experiences – Making formative memories
  4. Moments of Pride – Fuelling self-worth
  5. Keeping on top of it All – Time well spent (re-prioritisation)

Relationships are important to girls, particularly with friends and family. However the pandemic had a negative impact on some friendships as they were not able to meet properly, and they felt their lives were on hold with the lack of freedom. Social media helped them stay connected but they found too much could affect their mental health. The changes did bring new opportunities for learning new skills and perhaps exploring new areas during walks.

“It [exercise] makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something and can really boost your confidence” (Less Active, 15 year old)


Online exercise was tried but often girls felt it was not personalised/tailored to their needs or was not fun and exciting enough. Barriers included lack of space to exercise at home, fear of judgement and distractions.

Outdoor exercise like walking played an important role in helping girls during the pandemic. However barriers like weather, not feeling safe or feeling judged were also a consideration.

This is an easy-to-read and insightful report which covers girls’ lives and values during the pandemic, as well as key learnings for sport and physical activity providers. The references to the Spectrum of Engagement and ‘Reframing Sport for Teenage Girls toolkit’ provide additional helpful resources.  

Last Update
6 months ago  
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Geographic Coverage
England