Schools should do more to get girls involved in sports activities as this helps to build confidence, says the chief executive of The Girls' Day School Trust (GDST).
Helen Fraser said all girls and not just the 'sporty' ones should be encouraged to participate in such activities and blamed magazines and the media for promoting an ideal of women that discourages physical exertion.
According to research, girls are much less active than boys when it comes to sport, with one in five doing no physical activity at all - twice the number as boys.
The Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation claims that only a quarter of girls regularly meet the current recommended levels of physical activity each week, the BBC reports. By the time girls reach adulthood, they take part in significantly less sport than men.
Ms Fraser said many successful women have participated in sport, such as Condoleezza Rice, who was once a tennis player and figure skater.
In addition to the obvious health benefits that physical exertion brings, Ms Fraser said sports have important social benefits.
"Girls who are in schools which focus solely on academic achievement can experience success after success, and may never learn that you can have a real setback and come back and recover," she said.
"The experience of losing a hockey game three-nil and carrying on to another match builds resilience".
Offering a wide range of activities could be the way to reverse this trend, Ms Fraser said. She said the schools which form part of the GDST offer activities such as trampolining and zumba as well as more traditional, competitive sports.
The government has been trying to promote sport in schools and earlier this year announced it would continue providing extra funding for primary schools up to 2020.
Some £150 million of investment is being made available to ensure pupils are able to realise the benefits of taking part in sport, as part of the coalition's attempts to secure the Olympic and Paralympic legacy.
Posted by Charlotte Michaels