Background and Rationale
Gender is an important confounder in the epidemiology of physical activity, where men are more physically active than women (Aadahl, Kjaer & Jorgensen, 2007; Azevedo et.al., 2007). Within sport research, the focus on race and religiosity from a social science perspective has for a long time been a marginal research area. The early research on race and sport has been criticised for being ethnocentric (Fleming 1994) with stereotypes like ‘Arabic countries are not interested in sports’ or ‘Muslim girls are constrained by their parents from participating’ and that ‘the level of physical activity among Muslim women is low outside and inside their home’. These need further groundwork examination to determine its accuracy.
Researchers have explained the low level of participation of women of Asian and North African origin in sports in Europe as a result of both religious and cultural barriers as well as racism and discrimination within sports organisations. For example, it is often argued that Muslim immigrant girls face gender-specific barriers that limit their leisure-time activities, such as household responsibilities. Racism as an explanation for the low level of involvement is currently widely accepted among researchers (Carrington and McDonald 2001). Lovell (1991) found that Asian women are often given less attention and discriminated against in physical education because of teachers’ ideas of Asian girls as passive and frail and therefore not interested in sports.
Sport participation has scientifically been proven to provide these benefits: lower risk of getting heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes, lower high blood pressure, reduced anxiety and depression and improved mood. It also helps cope with stress and control weight, provides more energy, promotes better sleep and
References: Carrington B, and McDonald, I (2001).“Race,” sport and British society. London. Fleming, S. (1994). Sport and South Asian youth: the perils of ‘false universalism’ and stereotyping. Leisure Studies 13(3), pp. 159–177. Moore, K. (2004). Muslim Women Athletes Move Ahead, But Don 't Leave Faith Behind. Physical Activity. Lovel. T (1991), Sport, racism and young women, in G. Jarvie (ed.), Sport, racism and ethnicity, London 58–73. Aadahl M, Kjaer M, Jorgensen T. (2007) Influence of time spent on TV viewing and vigorous intensity physical activity on cardiovascular biomarkers. The Inter 99 Study. Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil ; 14: 660-5. Azevedo MR, Araujo CL, Reichert FF, Siqueira FV, da Silva MC, Hallal PC. (2007). Gender differences in leisure-time and physical activity. International Journal of Public Health; 52: 8-15.