‘I like the “outernet” stuff:’ girls’ perspectives on physical activity and their environments

As observed globally in many other aspects of daily life, the gender gap is very much present in physical activity, with males engaging in higher levels of physical activity on average than females. This study takes a material feminist approach to explore girls’ perspectives on the features of their everyday environments that support or inhibit their participation in physical activities in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, with the purpose of identifying how environments play a role in gendering physical activity. This article was written by HEAL team members Stephanie E. Coen, Christine A. Mitchell, & Jason A. Gilliland.

As part of the larger multi-method Spatial Temporal Environment and Activity Monitoring (STEAM) project, six focus groups were held with 2–4 girls ages 10–12 years from rural, suburban, and urban schools. Through inductive thematic analysis, two themes were identified: (1) Outdoor matter, matters for physical activity, and (2) Social levers and liabilities shape physical activity affordances. These results indicate that girls may engage in more physical activity should they be provided with proximate outdoor play spaces with natural elements and diverse infrastructure, coupled with efforts to alleviate social liabilities (e.g. care responsibilities) and leverage social supports (e.g. peers). Based on these findings, naturalized schoolyards have been recommended as a potential gender-sensitive physical activity intervention.

This study was funded by the Children’s Health Foundation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

“‘I like the “outernet” stuff:’ girls’ perspectives on physical activity and their environments” was published in Routledge Taylor and Francis Online, the world’s leading academic publisher in the Humanities and Social Sciences


Read the full article here: https://doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2018.1561500

Keywords: gender, physical activity, environment, nature, youth


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