Home News Why girls might avoid sport: new study highlights breast anxieties

Why girls might avoid sport: new study highlights breast anxieties

Dr Jenny Smith, a senior lecturer in sport and exercise psychology at the University of Chichester, is one of a team of researchers calling for breast education for girls after a new study found that about half of all girls at UK secondary schools might be avoiding sport because of embarrassment or pain caused by their breasts.

More than 2,000 girls aged between 11 and 17-years-old took part in the investigation by the Research Group in Breast Health and the study found that very few girls knew what sort of bra to wear, whether their bra was a good fit or how to avoid breast pain while exercising.

More than half the girls said they never wore a sports bra, and nearly all told the researchers they wanted to know more about breast health and breast support.

It has been estimated that 90 per cent of 14-year-old girls in the UK do not do enough exercise to meet government exercise guidelines.

The research group, internationally renowned for research on the biomechanics of the breast, is made up of researchers from three universities including Chichester, Portsmouth, and St Mary’s Twickenham.

Other findings included:

  • 15 per cent of the girls thought their breasts were too big to be able to exercise;
  • Those with larger breasts (D-cup plus) are more likely to opt out of sport and exercise than those with smaller breasts;
  • Only 10 per cent always wore a sports bra when exercising;
  • Even those who took part in a lot of sport, and always wore a sports bra, said they didn’t know if their bra was the right fit for them;
  • 87 per cent wanted to know more about breast health and support.

Dr Jenny Smith is a senior lecturer in sport and exercise psychology and the sport science manager for the Sport Performance and Rehabilitation Unit (SPRU).

Find out more about the research here.

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Date published

27 Jan 2016

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