Girls on the Run uses running to inspire and motivate girls, encourage lifelong health and fitness, and build confidence through accomplishment. Important social, psychological, and physical skills and abilities are developed and reinforced through the program. The completion of a 5K at program’s end gives girls a tangible sense of achievement as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals.
This framework is supported though a study by Rita DeBate, PhD, MPH, CHES with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte which showed statistically significant improvements in the girls’ self-esteem, body size satisfaction, and eating attitudes/behaviors after completing GOTR.
Nearly every day, startling statistics become available about the decisions our youth are making. Girls are at higher risks for smoking, depression, pregnancy, breast cancer, eating disorders, obesity, and a lack of exercise. Programs like Girls on the Run are helping to make a difference and reverse some of these negative trends.
It is well-documented that girls who are physically active have:
- Higher levels of self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-image.
- Lower risks of developing depression and anxiety disorders.
- Lower levels of stress and tension.
- Reduced risks of developing breast cancer, endometrial cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes.
- Higher grade point averages, better SAT scores, a lower risk of dropping out of school, and a better chance of getting into and performing well in college.
- Decreased risks of eating disorders, smoking, alcohol use, sexual behavior, and pregnancy.
- Higher energy, motivation, optimism, and achievements. For example, 80 percent of all female Fortune 500 executives identified themselves as former “tomboys.”
The key is to start instilling the importance of physical activity and a healthy lifestyle early to reduce many high-risk behaviors and health problems as these girls get older, which is what Girls on the Run helps to do.
The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (PCPFS) acknowledged Girls on the Run as a Health Organization Resource in May, 2011. PCPFS serves as a catalyst to promote, encourage, and motivate Americans of all ages to become physically active and participate in sports. Assisted by elements of the U.S. Public Health Service, the PCPFS advises the President and the Secretary of Health and Human Services on how to encourage more Americans to be physically fit and active.