Leicester researchers partner with Youth Sport Trust to get Girls Active

Leicester researchers are working with the Youth Sport Trust to determine whether a school-based physical activity programme could help provide the key to encouraging adolescent girls to be and stay active.

The announcement comes on the final day (26 June) of the Youth Sport Trust’s National School Sport Week, a celebration of PE and school sport with almost 5,000 schools across the country taking part this year.

Experts at the University’s Diabetes Research Centre and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit, in collaboration with researchers from Loughborough, Bangor and Stirling, have secured £599,444 from the NIHR PHR Programme to investigate whether a school-based physical activity programme could be effective in influencing adolescent girls’ physical activity levels.

The research team has teamed up with the Youth Sport Trust to test the Girls Active school-based physical activity programme. Girls Active was set up by the Youth Sport Trust in 2014 and is delivered in partnership with Women in Sport. It seeks to tackle the relatively lower levels of participation by girls in PE and sport.

It has recruited 20 schools (involving approximately 1,600 girls aged 11-14 years) to take part in the study which is running in the Midlands with many of the schools coming from Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

The study includes measuring the physical activity levels of girls using a physical activity monitor worn on the wrist and participating girls are also completing questionnaires about their feelings towards physical activity, sport and PE.

Deirdre Harrington PhD, Lecturer in Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour and Health said: “The young people have been really interested in the research process and ask some great questions about what we are doing. Although some are initially nervous about being involved in a study, they soon are excited when they see how friendly and open the whole research team are.

“The school leads realise what a valuable piece of work this is. Even with the time pressure and exams looming they have accommodated us in whatever way they can as they want to support their young girls in becoming and staying active.”