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Women’s sports for women’s health

Posted Dec 20 2009 12:00am
Published December 20th, 2009 in , , , , , ,

Ithaca.edu - The findings of a Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) research team led by Ellen Staurowsky are shedding new light on the social and physical benefits that women’s sports programs offer to girls and women. Released December 15, 2009 and entitled “Her Life Depends on It II,” the study is a more comprehensive edition of WSF’s 2004 report “Her Life Depends on It.”

“Compiled from more than 2,000 studies examining the relationship between participation in sport and physical activity on the health of girls and women, ‘Her Life Depends on It II’ includes hundreds of new studies conducted in the five years since the 2004 report was released,” said Staurowsky, professor and graduate chair of Ithaca College’s Department of Sport Management and Media. Staurowsky led a research team of seven experts from around the world in compiling the report.

“Healthcare is a central concern in the United States right now, and ‘Her Life Depends on It II’ sheds fascinating light on how important prevention can be to the health of our nation,” said Jessica Mendoza, WSF president and Olympic gold medalist in softball. “Something as simple and fun as regularly playing sports and being physically active from an early age can be a major factor in improving the health and lives of American women.”

The key public health findings in “Her Life Depends II on It” include:

• Even stronger data that physical activity in girls and women is critical for women’s health and well-being
• Females participating in sports and fitness programs are at significantly lower risk for developing breast cancer, osteoporosis and depression
• Likewise, girls and women benefit socially from physical activity programs; they are less likely to smoke, do drugs and become teenage mothers
• Minorities and women from lower socioeconomic backgrounds generally participate less in athletics and fitness programs and suffer disproportionate health-related consequences

In addition to documenting the overwhelming evidence regarding the health benefits of sport and physical activity, a section of the report addresses emerging areas of research that deal with female athletes and sport-related injuries. Although more research needs to be done to better understand female athletes and rates of injuries, early findings suggest that coaches and educators should be aware of the different physiological needs of female athletes and tailor training programs accordingly.

“The five years of new studies and data included in this report lead to the conclusion that participation in sports and long-term physical and mental health in women are inextricably linked,” Staurowsky said. “The importance of participation in sports for girls, from an early age, and throughout their lives cannot be underestimated.”

The executive summary and full study of “Her Life Depends on It II” are available at WomensSportsFoundation.org.

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