Despite Lionesses’ legacy, just 12% of teenage girls plan on playing sport this summer

  • Over a quarter (28%) of teenage girls state that exercise is not important to them
  • 28% of parents anticipate their daughters will stay indoors between 4-7 days every week
  • Nuffield Health has launched new programme “Move together”, aimed to address this activity gap
  • The charity is hosting free exercise classes across the country this summer for 11–16-year-olds


A new survey released today reveals that despite the recent splash of news coverage on women in sport following the Lionesses’ Euros win, just 12% of girls aged 11-16 plan to play sport this summer.

The data, based on a survey by Nuffield Health of 2000 11-16-years old’s and their parents, revealed a worrying lack of participation in physical activity, with over one in four (28%) girls stating that exercise is not important to them.

During the long summer break, 28% of parents of girls aged 11-16 anticipate their daughters will stay indoors between 4-7 days every week, preferring to watch a streaming series (34%) and play video games (21%) than play a sport (12%). In comparison, 27% of boy, plan on playing a sport this summer – more than double the number of girls.

It is evident that there are wider pressures faced by girls in this age group compared to boys. 43% of girls feel embarrassed while playing sports or exercising, compared to only 28% of boys.

This alarming trend is consistent with research from Sport England’s Active Lives survey that showed 54 per cent of girls aged 11-16 are doing less than 60 minutes of activity a day. This follows data from Nuffield Health’s Healthier Nation Index, which recently showed that women’s health had suffered most in the pandemic, with 47% saying they had done no vigorous physical exercise in the last year.


In response to this, Nuffield Health, the UK’s largest healthcare charity, aims to help fill this gap in activity over the summer holidays through their Move together programme - offering fun, inclusive and free exercise classes in 114 sites across the UK . As nearly half of young girls said they want to spend their summer holidays seeing their friends, the Move together pilot initiative aims to provide a safe, confidence-boosting environment for young women to come together and explore new activities outside the school curriculum.

Davina Deniszczyc, Charity and Medical Director at Nuffield Health, said; “Recent research by Nuffield Health found that almost half of British women don’t do any vigorous exercise, and this new data shows this problem often starts in girls teenage years, with many reporting multiple barriers to physical activity. If we don’t start knocking these down for young girls now, we run the risk of this continuing into their adult lives, negatively impacting on both their physical and mental health. The recent Lionesses’ victory has supercharged an interest in women’s sport and will serve as an inspiration to girls all over the country for years to come, and we need to ensure this legacy is not lost.

“We launched Move together to give young people an opportunity to feel better on the inside and out, meet or make friends, and give them a chance to try something new whilst getting active. Our ambition is to get as many young girls as possible active this summer without having to worry about cost.”

Olivia Tyler, Clinical Fitness Specialist at Nuffield Health, said; “I hear the same concerns all the time, especially from young women. It is a mixture of feeling self-conscious, worried about being embarrassed and not knowing what else they can do that goes beyond the traditional sports offered in school sports lessons. We are hoping to inspire young girls with fun activities they can do with their friends in convenient, safe spaces that will encourage participation over the summer and beyond”.

Hosted in local parks and community hubs near Nuffield Health centres, classes will be offered in a range of disciplines including boxing, pilates, yoga, dance, Zumba and circuits. Parents, guardians and carers can easily book 11–16-year-olds onto a class via, or sign up at their local Nuffield Health centre.

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