Nearly every day, startling statistics become available about the decisions our youth are making. Girls, in particular, are at a significant disadvantage today with higher risks for smoking, depression, pregnancy, breast cancer, eating disorders, obesity and a lack of exercise.

But, there is good news in all of this – especially for young women. 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% 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) has recently acknowledged Girls on the Run as a Health Organization Resource. 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.