Karen Weiller Abels

Written by: 
Brittney Dear
Karen Weiller Abels
Karen Weiller Abels

Karen Weiller Abels has always loved physical activity, even working as an elementary physical education teacher before joining the UNT faculty 25 years ago.

Weiller Abels -- who serves as associate chair of UNT's Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation and is this year's UNT Foundation's Faculty Leadership Award recipient -- has long focused her research on gender issues in media representation of women in sports, along with elementary physical education.

"Sports provide an outlet for both girls and women, whether for recreational purposes or for competitive purposes," she says.

How are sports and body image related?

Body image is a very important aspect of sports, where girls can thrive no matter their body type. Sport is for all women of all body types and abilities. It is critical for the media to focus on a woman's skill and athletic ability, rather than her body type. Parents should provide the same opportunities for their girls as they do for their boys.

How often should girls participate in physical activity?

Daily activity is critical for all youth. Based on the individual, determine what fits into her lifestyle and research recommendations for 60 minutes daily of moderate to vigorous physical activity.

How would you suggest parents motivate their children to get involved in sports?

Allow your children to choose sports in which they wish to engage. Then discuss the level of participation and commitment as they get older. Help them find an activity or sport they enjoy. This can be on a recreational or a competitive level. Finding friends who enjoy the same activity also may help them stay interested in participating.