Engaging fathers to improve physical activity levels and social-emotional well-being in their daughters

Girls' physical activity levels and movement skill proficiency are extremely low:
Children who participate in recommended levels of physical activity (i.e., 60 minutes a day) experience a plethora of physical and psychological health benefits. However, only a small percentage of children meet these recommendations. Of particular concern is that girls are less active than boys at all ages and by age 13, 80% of girls do not meet physical activity recommendations. Moreover, girls drop out of sport at a rate six times greater than boys .

The father-daughter connection as an innovative strategy for holistic health:
Parents play a critical role in their children's physical activity levels through provision of opportunities, encouragement and role modelling positive activity attitudes and behaviours. Despite this, girls receive less encouragement and opportunities for physical activity from their parents than boys. Emerging research has shown that mothers and fathers differ in their physical activity-related parenting practices and that fathers who are actively engaged with their daughters impact on a host of important physical and mental health outcomes including higher levels of cognitive ability, self-esteem, social skills, and educational outcomes. However, research has shown fathers spend less time with their daughters than their sons and may discount the importance of their relationships with their daughters. Physical activity provides an exciting medium through which to develop physical, cognitive and social-emotional skills in girls and fathers may play a key role.


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