HealthDay News — Over 90% of U.S. high school students don’t get enough moderate-to-vigorous exercise, and the pattern persists after they graduate, according to a study published online September 26 in Pediatrics.

The new findings are based on 561 students who were followed for four years, starting in 10th grade.

The researchers found that only 9% met current exercise recommendations throughout that time. The study participants’ activity levels typically declined in the year after high school graduation – especially if they did not go to college. Those who went to a four-year college got a little more exercise, particularly if they lived on campus.

“The walkability of your environment is important,” lead researcher Kaigang Li, PhD, an assistant professor of health and exercise science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, told HealthDay. “Communities could create more walkable environments, public parks, bike trails, or low-cost or free exercise programs.” However, gyms and bike paths “aren’t enough.” Children also need to learn, early on, how to build healthy habits into their day, he stressed.

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