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The influence of the breast on sport and exercise participation in school girls in the United Kingdom

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Purpose
Emerging evidence suggests that breasts may be a barrier to physical activity for adult females. With only 12% of the UK 14-year-old girls achieving exercise guidelines, to understand deterrents to exercise in this population, we should consider whether breasts may also influence sport and exercise participation in school girls. This survey-based study investigated the influence of the breast on sport and exercise participation and breast-specific concerns in the UK school girls.

Methods
A survey was developed to assess demographics, breast characteristics, breast-specific concerns in sports, breast knowledge, views on breast education, and sport participation. Chi-squared tests assessed associations between participation and breast size, sports bra use, and breast concerns.

Results
Two thousand eighty-nine school girls aged 11–18 years completed the survey, for 97 their breasts had begun developing and 96% reported wearing breast support. Forty-six percent of girls reported that their breasts had some effect on their participation in compulsory sports and exercise, which was more prevalent in girls aged 13–14 years (51%) and in larger-breasted girls (63%). More than 50% reported never wearing a sports bra during sports. Breast concerns were high with 73% reporting ≥1 breast-specific concern in sports; with breast bounce being most prevalent (38%).

Conclusions
As most of the breast concerns raised in this survey could be addressed via education and 87% of girls wanted to know more about breasts, this study demonstrates a need for breast education for school girls, which may reduce the influence of the breast on sport and exercise participation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-173
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Volume58
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016

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