Middle School Girls

The Challenge: Girls Aren't Moving Enough

Low levels of physical activity, combined with poor dietary intake, may have contributed to the increase in the prevalence of youth obesity in the United States over the past 20 years. According to the CDC, nearly half of American youth are not vigorously active on a regular basis. Inactivity is more common among girls than boys, and the rate of physical activity declines significantly as girls get older.

According to the CDC & The World Health Organization:

Research suggests that physical activity positively influences brain function- and can translate into improved academic achievement, better classroom behavior and reduce the risk of depression and anxiety.

The Gender Disparity

A gender disparity exists between physical activity levels and fitness among boys and girls

  • Only 39% of girls report 60 minutes of daily physical activity, compared to 58% of boys
  • Georgia Fitnessgram data results show 41% of 8th-grade girls in Healthy Fitness Zone for heart health compared to 57% of boys
  • Only 51% of girls have healthy aerobic capacity in 5th grade and by 12th grade, the number drops to 31%

Georgia's Middle School Girls

In more than 40 Georgia counties, fewer than 1 in 3 girls reach the healthy fitness zone in aerobic capacity

Every year, Georgia assesses more than 1 million students’ fitness levels. Girls have continuously scored lower on what experts call “aerobic capacity”, a measure of the ability of the heart, lungs, and muscles to perform sustained physical activity.  Good aerobic capacity lowers an individual’s risk of developing high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, obesity, diabetes and some forms of cancer. Students with better aerobic capacity tend to perform better in school.

In 2018, 56,000 middle school girls in Georgia opted out of Physical Education Class.

Watch the video to learn more about the extensive research that has been conducted to identify the barriers to physical education for middle school girls in Georgia.


Case Study

Letting Girls Lead

Thirty middle school girls, ages 11 to 14 years, participated in the "Power Up for 30 Middle School Girls Physical Activity Project" at two sites facilitated by HealthMPowers coordinators.

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Continuing to Innovate

Rather than adults designing another physical activity program that doesn’t work for girls today, The Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation and partners have teamed up to discover how to motivate and almost 200,000 middle school girls across the state of Georgia to get moving by designing something by them, for them.

GEM, Girls Empowering Movement, is the next generation of physical activity for middle school girls.

Learn More about GEM