Fitness often not a priority for college students

Mon Jan 2, 2012 5:04am EST
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Along with mother's cooking and the family dog, regular exercise is too often among the childish things young adults leave behind when they make the move from home to college.

Attention should be paid to this drop off, experts say, because those inactive in youth tend to remain inactive over their lifetime.

"The transition from late adolescence to early adulthood represents the most dramatic declines in physical activity across a person's life," according to Dr. Matthew Kwan, a researcher at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

Kwan said campaigns tend to focus on increasing activity in adults.

"That's important, but it's when declines have already occurred," he said. "This is a critical period where we can actually intervene."

In a recent study that followed 683 Canadian adolescents from 12 to 15 years old for 12 years, researchers headed by Kwan found a 24 percent decrease in physical activity from adolescence to early adulthood.

The research, which appeared in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, showed declines were steepest among young men entering university or college. Kwan said it might be a consequence of the big drop off in organized sports activity after high school.

"Team sports, varsity activities tend to decrease or drop off entirely," he explained. "For those who go to college, studies become more important. Then there's the social aspect that eats up their disposable time as well."   Continued...