Studies show post high school women don't exercise

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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.  

Dawn Lorring is a physical therapist at Cleveland Clinic who says it shows that young women, in particular, are struggling to meet daily exercise recommendations.  

"Basically, women were not meeting those levels across the board, in any of the age groups. However, there was a larger drop-off once you got above the age of 17. So once you hit 18 there was actually a larger drop-off in the female population than in the male population," she says. 

The study looked at more than 9,000 young men and women between the ages of 12 and 29. Researchers studied their activity levels by asking if they were meeting the recommended daily levels of activity.  

For children and teens under the age of 20, recommendations call for 60 minutes per day, or 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.  

Lorring says physical activity is important for all young people, especially young women because they can develop bone density issues that can become larger problems as they age. Up until about their mid-20s, women have a surplus where they are building more bone than they are losing.  

However, once women reach their mid-20s, they lose the ability to make those gains and only make enough bone to replace what is lost.  

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

"Making yourself kind of 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," Dr. Lorring says.

To get close to that high school level of physical activity, Lorring says that it's important to choose an activity that you enjoy so that you don't see exercise as something you have to do, but rather something you want to do. She recommends doing an activity with a friend or using music to help motivate you to keep moving.