51.8% of Spanish women do some kind of sport. It is the first time that the five-year survey of sports habits prepared by the Statistics and Studies Division of the Ministry of Culture and Sports together with the Higher Sports Council (CSD) reflects that there are more women who exercise than those who do not.
This data is a symptom of the will of more and more people to lead an active and healthier life, but it also reflects the empowerment that makes more and more women break into social spaces traditionally associated with men. Even so, there are still barriers and the gender gap is still 11.3%. Data that has barely decreased one point since 2015, when it was 12.3%. “More and more women understand as their own a privilege that until recently was understood only for men,” explains Marta Guerra, a general health psychologist at the Claritas Institute.
«In part, the increase is due -beyond the pandemic era in which there were other reasons- to the influence of the policies that have been approved. There has been a boom in women’s sports practice”, explains Dr. Pedrona Serra, professor at INEFC Barcelona. This study is carried out every five years, but the 2020 study could not be done completely due to the pandemic. In addition, the confinement greatly changed the sporting habits and the concern for the physical and mental health of the majority of people.
After the pandemic, around 6 out of 10 people do sports in Spain, 57.3% of the population, a figure that is 3.8% more than in 2015, but the activity continues to be stigmatized by gender. «We have empowered ourselves to where they have left us. In the type of sport preferred by men and women, the gender stereotype is clearly seen, “says Dr. Serra.
The survey reveals that 66.7% of women choose individual sports, compared to 55.7% of men, and that 46.6% of them prefer directed activities, a modality that only 25.1% of women choose. the men. Only 9.2% of female athletes participated in organized competitions, less than half that of men, who reached 22.3%. By sports, outdoor sports such as soccer, cycling or paddle tennis, and weight training and weightlifting attract the male population much more; gymnastics, swimming and hiking, more for women, as well as activities behind closed doors and activities with music.
«Man has traditionally occupied the public space, hence the preference for outdoor sports. Likewise, the most competitive sport models are traditionally linked to men and the type of sport most linked to aesthetics to women. Corporalities also lead to practicing one type of sport or another”, explains Raúl Sánchez, professor of social sciences at INEFC Madrid. “It is important to break these stigmas and move towards equality with confidence, knowing that men and women have the same right to enjoy the same sports,” says Guerra.
«Not only do you have to empower and explain to women that they can do any type of sport. Men must also be invited to practice dancing or other disciplines that are not considered masculine,” explains Serra.
the motive matters
More women do it to keep fit, for health reasons or to relax, but more men do it simply for pleasure or fun, because they like to compete or as a way of self-improvement. A trend that fades as the respondents are younger.
«Society requires us to be young and slender women all our lives and sport becomes a tool to achieve this, it is pure social pressure and that also leads you to practice a series of sports that allow you to meet those social demands. But more and more young women enjoy the sport itself and opt for sports that they like regardless of the roles,” explains Dr. Serra. This process of mentality change is closely linked to the sports culture that is instilled in childhood.
«Hence the debate that currently exists with the spaces of the schoolyard. Tradition has meant that boys play soccer and girls are cornered in other spaces. Reversing this type of trend will make it easier for women”, explains Sánchez.
Age, a brake on exercise
The same study makes it clear that the older, the less activity. According to the data, from 15 to 19 years of age, 84.4% of the population declare having done sports in the last year, a percentage that decreases to a minimum of 16.2% from the age of 75 and in these data a difference is appreciated between men and women, being them the ones who practice the most sports in the elderly.
“It should be noted that as we get older, women continue to exercise but men do not. The male sports culture is to practice impact, federated or explosive sports and that is incompatible with the elderly and, on the other hand, women continue to be well below the male figures in federations, ”serra reasons. On the other hand, in the case of women there is a smaller decrease in sports practice in the age group typically related to maternity. “It seems that there is social pressure to recover the body from before being a mother and that also affects sports practice,” explains Dr. Serra.