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Promoting Mental Health and Well-being Through Sport and Physical Activity

Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month?

Research has shown that sport and physical activity support girls’ mental health and well-being. They are healthy outlets for eliminating stress and provide opportunities to move and get outside! 

So, what does this actually look like, and how can we get more girls moving?

The Link Between Sport, Physical Activity, and Mental Health

The 2022 Rally Report by Canadian Women & Sport reported that over 90 percent of girls between the ages of 6-12 believe that sport benefits their physical and mental health. 

It’s no secret that physical activity helps improve mood and optimizes mental health – but what is the science behind this phenomenon?

  • Physical activity stimulates the release of endorphins, commonly known as the “feel-good” chemicals in the brain. These chemicals promote a sense of happiness and reduce stress. 
  • Sport plays a vital role in building resilience, boosting self-esteem, and alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression. 
  • While participating in sport, girls can adopt new developmental skills, learn to overcome challenges, and experience improved mental well-being over time!

Sport Participation Matters: 78 percent of girls who participate in sport report positive mental health, compared to 68 percent who did not participate. (Rallying for Girl’s Mental Health, The Rally Report 2022. Canadian Women & Sport)

Benefits of Sport and Physical Activity for Girls’ Mental Health

Participation in sport and physical activity offers numerous benefits for girls’ mental health. As girls develop skills, set goals, and witness their progress, sport promotes self-confidence. Engaging in sport and physical activity enhances body positivity, encouraging girls to embrace their strengths and appreciate their bodies for all the amazing things it can do. 

Sport also provides opportunities for social connections, teamwork, and a sense of belonging, often contributing to improved mental well-being.

Strategies for Incorporating Sport and Physical Activity into Daily Life

Incorporating sports and physical activity into daily routines is easy to do! By adopting a few key strategies, we can all make regular movement a part of our day.

Set Realistic Goals

Start by setting realistic goals that align with your current schedule. Whether aiming for a certain number of movement sessions per week, steps per day, or participating in a specific sport, setting goals will keep you motivated!

Find Enjoyable Activities

Engaging in sport and physical activities that you genuinely enjoy and have fun in is crucial. You can always try different activities such as swimming, running, cycling, dancing, or team sports to discover what brings you joy. Finding something you love won’t feel like a chore, and you’ll be more likely to want to do it more!

Prioritize Making Time

Making time for movement (aka time management) is important for incorporating physical activity into your routine. Take a look at your schedule on a weekly or daily basis and find when and where you can dedicate time to get moving. It could be waking up 30 minutes earlier or using your lunch break for a quick walk. When you make physical activity a priority, carving out time for it consistently will come as second nature! 

Tip: having movement sessions with friends and family can also make it more enjoyable and hold each other accountable!

Remember: incorporating movement for girls in your life is all about supporting them to feel good, learn about all the amazing things our bodies can do, and support having positive mental health to be the amazing girls of today and leaders of tomorrow!

In sport settings that focus on effort, improvement, and teamwork, depression symptoms are significantly lower (3%) vs. settings where winning is the main goal and success is defined by ability compared to others (24.7%.) (Women’s Sport Foundation, 2024)

Girls in Sports are Empowered For Life!

Fast and Female is committed to our mission of empowering girls through sport, physical activity, and education.

Through our events and programs, we strive to provide a brave and inclusive environment for our participants where they feel a sense of belonging, are exposed to our REAL (Relatable, Empowered, Active Leaders) Role Models, and can participate in sport and physical activity! Our evidence-based program curriculum tackles topics and raises awareness on body image, girls’ confidence, consent and boundaries, and using your voice. 

Ultimately, we want to work towards a world where girls thrive with limitless opportunities and effortless access to sport and physical activity, free from any barriers!

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