Many young women don’t get enough exercise after high school

Life after high school can bring many changes and challenges.

And according to a recent study, a big challenge for many young people after high school is fitting in time for exercise.

The study looked at 9,472 young men and women between the ages of 12-29.

Researchers studied their activity levels by asking if they were meeting the recommended daily levels of activity.

For children and teens under 20, recommendations call for 60 minutes per day (420 minutes per week) of moderate to vigorous activity.

For young adults older than 20, it’s recommended to achieve 145 minutes of exercise per week.

Dawn Lorring, PT, MPT, SCS, CSCS, Clinical Rehabilitation Manager at Cleveland Clinic, did not take part in the study, but said it shows that young women, in particular, are struggling to meet daily exercise recommendations.

“Basically, women were not meeting the recommended levels of exercise across the board, in any of the age groups,” she said. “However, the research showed that once women hit age 18, there was actually a larger drop-off in activity among the female population than in the male population.”

Lorring said physical activity is important for all young people, especially young women, because women can develop bone density issues that can become larger problems as they age.

Up until about their mid-twenties, women have a surplus where they are building more bone than they are losing.

However, once women reach their mid-twenties, they lose the ability make those gains and only make enough bone to replace what it lost.

Lorring said transitioning to life after high school can be stressful and busy, but it helps to make a plan for exercise, the same way we plan other events in the week.

“Make yourself pencil-in the time during the day or during the week that you’re going to get your activity in, so that it’s another appointment on your schedule that then becomes more important to you,” she said.

Lorring said it’s important for people to choose an activity they enjoy so they don’t see exercise as something they have to do, but rather something they want to do.

She also recommends adding some music and some variety to exercise to keep things interesting.

“Take along your favorite music, because music actually increases the intensity in which you do activities,” said Lorring. “If you select things you enjoy, your brain will perceive it as less difficult and it will be more pleasurable – the more fun and exciting it is, the more likely you are to stick with it.”

Complete results of the study can be found in JAMA Pediatrics.